Are the nephews still on the couch?


A billion trees made a great headline at the time. On the plus side, planting (or was it mulching) all the trees made us carbon free; it gave the NZ First led Coalition another target to miss with minimal effort; and it got the nephews off the couch. Win, win, win! Quote.

Pay rates of $400 a day are not enough to attract workers to plant trees, potentially putting a brake on the Government’s one billion trees by 2028 campaign.

Forest nurseries have doubled plantings to 100 million tree seedings in response to Government incentives, but finding staff is the biggest hurdle to getting them in the ground.

Forest Management director David Janett said the bottleneck was not so much acquiring seedlings from forest nurseries, but finding people to plant the trees. “We are fully booked up for this year.”

Planting rates in the North Island were reaching 60 cents a tree, which equated to pay rates of $300 to $400 a day. “And we still can’t get people.”

“The greatest impediment is finding the labour to plant the trees. We can mechanise a lot of the work, but we can’t mechanise a person on a spade,” Janett said.

Tree planting was done in autumn and winter and seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands would need to be recruited. End quote.

Oh look, we need more immigrants! Quote.

Forest Nursery Growers Association president Kevin Haine said its member nurseries would grow 100 million tree seedlings this year, almost double the 54m trees grown two years ago.

Of this, the Government was responsible for about 20m trees through its Crown forestry partnerships, such as its agreement to establish a commercial forest on Ngati Rehia iwi land in Northland. End quote.

Hopefully they are a little better prepared than Ngati Hine. Quote.

Tree planting had already increased to 70m trees last year in response to demand for replanting of harvested forests, as the “wall of wood” from a peak planting in 1994 reached maturity.

“A positive aspect is that all the logged land is being replanted in trees. This is in contrast to about five years ago when carbon credits were low and it was cheap to get out of forestry and into farming.” […]

Patrick Murray, of Murrays Nurseries at Woodville, said it had doubled plantings of pinus radiata from 5m to 10m trees in the last year, with Crown Forestry contracting a lot of the trees. This surpassed its previous peak production of 9.3m trees in the early 1990s.

Murray said that while the operation could expand further, he had turned down further business in the meantime as he was cautious about having sufficient staff.

Forest carbon consultant Ollie Belton says Emissions Trading Scheme rule changes will make permanent forests more attractive by removing the liability risk.

?Janett said the surge in tree planting meant landowners needed to consider scale, or face not being able to harvest their commercial plantation forests.

There was already a shortage of forest harvest contractors in the North Island, who could chose to only log forests with scale and good access.

The Government was offering $118 million in direct landholder grants to encourage the planting of trees, as well as native regeneration.

Ollie Belton, a partner of Permanent Forests NZ a Christchurch-based carbon consultancy, said ETS rule changes would make permanent forests more attractive by removing the liability risk. Permanent forests could keep earning carbon credits under ETS as long as a forest kept growing and gaining biomass.

Under existing rules the risk was that as trees aged and blew over, those carbon credits would need to be paid back. Proposed rules removed this liability if the forest was replanted.

“So this eliminates the risk of liability from a fire or a wind event and forest owners won’t need carbon insurance.” […] End quote.