On the back of the Prime Minister’s enquiry into plantation slash, Pure Advantage is calling for a complete pause in all government incentives for exotic tree planting in Aotearoa.
Pure Advantage chair Rob Morrison says there has been horrific damage caused by exotic plantation slash and other debris. Lives and homes have been lost, critical public infrastructure has been destroyed, and highly productive agricultural and horticultural land has been washed away or buried.
“Slash has been recognised as a major contributor to the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle, most of this has come from the mismanaged exotic tree plantations in the surrounding areas. The government has incentivised these exotic plantations and is now paying the price for maximising the short-term returns without thinking about long-term consequences.”
Pure Advantage wants an immediate pause to all government incentives for planting exotic trees like pinus radiata during its enquiry into slash.
“We need to address the root of the issue. Allowing fast-growing exotic trees in the Emissions Trading Scheme permanent forest category will only cause more destruction. Furthermore, it will not achieve the intended benefits for Iwi and other landowners or honour New Zealand’s NDCs under the Paris Agreement. It will create catastrophic environmental, social and economic liabilities for future generations.
“While some argue that exotic tree plantations can be transitioned to biodiverse native forests, this strategy is scientifically unproven and likely to be too expensive and impractical to execute at scale. There are also massive risks from wilding pines, fire and disease. These risks will increase as our climate continues to change.”
Exotic tree plantations have dominated forest policy in Aotearoa and there needs to be an urgent shift to a focus on diverse native forests.
The outcome of the inquiry should be a ‘win-win’ approach to land use that fosters regenerative pastoral farming, horticulture, viticulture, permanent native forests and production forestry, each in their ‘right places.’ In this approach; soils, slopes and stability are all taken into account, giving each of these industries a place in the sun.
“The aim is to create thriving, prosperous communities with long-term, rewarding jobs; high quality, high value products; sustainable industries; flourishing biodiversity, swimmable beaches and rivers that run clear. This will require long-term strategic thinking in land use and production, and good risk management by industries, local councils and the government,” says Morrison.
“Cyclone Gabrielle was the wake up call we desperately needed. The climate is changing and we know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. We need to immediately pause incentives for planting pine so no further damage can be done.”