Govt’s new forestry agency enters Mānuka partnership as part of grand planting plan

Te Uru Rākau – the name the Government has given to its newly established forestry service – will partner with Mānuka Farming New Zealand to plant 1.8 million mānuka trees across New Zealand this year, Forestry Minister Shane Jones has announced.

The Government has a target to plant one billion trees over the next ten years.

“Doing this will require innovation and genuine partnerships with the private sector, local councils, iwi and NGOs,” Mr Jones said.

“Te Uru Rākau will provide up to $1.8 million to Mānuka Farming New Zealand to source seedlings, work with landowners to undertake site assessments to assess land suitability, and provide an overall planting plan.

“Seedlings will then be provided free of charge to landowners who proceed with planting. Individual assessments to assess land suitability for establishing Mānuka plantations will take place this month and next and planting will occur from July to September.”

Mānuka is a valued native forest species and plantations can help prevent erosion as well as providing diversified income streams and environmentally sustainable land-use options for landowners, Mr Jones said.

Products from Manuka, such as honey and oil, are in high and increasing demand both domestically and globally.

The planting plan will take into account the suitability of available land for production of Mānuka honey, readiness for planting this winter, and availability of suitable Mānuka cultivars.

Mānuka Farming New Zealand will buy most of the seedlings from Kauri Park Nurseries and already has 100,000 seedlings available.

Landowners will need to cover the costs of dispatching the seedlings from the nursery, pest and weed control, fencing if required, planting costs and post-plant monitoring.

This approach extends to the funding of initial consultancy services to landowners via Mānuka Farming New Zealand.

“This will include confirmation of sites suitable for Manuka, ensuring effective pest control is in place, land preparation can be completed in time for planting, seedlings are matched to the available site and confirmation that labour for planting is available,” Mr Jones said.

Landowners who are interested in this initiative are advised to contact Mānuka Farming New Zealand directly.

Source: Minister of Forestry

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National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry take effect

New plantation forestry regulations will better protect the environment while improving productivity within the forestry sector, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

The new National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry come into effect today.

Mr Jones says they provide a nationally consistent set of regulations to manage the environmental effects of plantation forestry activities undertaken in New Zealand’s 1.7 million hectares of plantation forestry.

“Forestry is our third largest primary industry but its efficiency has been hindered by variation in planning rules across New Zealand’s multitude of councils,” he says.

“Many large forests cover multiple council boundaries, resulting in different rules for the same forest.

“From today that forest will be governed by one set of rules.

“Greater certainty around the rules should encourage more investment in the forestry industry, providing a boost for regional economies. The regulations also create a consistent operating environment for any plantation forestry established under the One Billion Trees programme.”

The standards are based on existing good practice standards for the forestry industry and include three risk-assessment tools developed to manage the environmental impacts from forestry, covering the issues of erosion, wilding conifers and fish spawning.

“The benefits of these tools are that the restrictions on forestry activities are related to the environmental risk rather than which council area a forestry operation is in,” Mr Jones says.

“The regulations cover eight core plantation forestry activities: afforestation, pruning and thinning to waste, earthworks, river crossings, forest quarrying, harvesting, mechanical land preparation and replanting. Councils may apply stricter rules for these activities in specific circumstances to manage locally significant or sensitive areas.”

The standard was developed jointly by Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for the Environment. It was gazetted in August 2017 with a delay in commencement to 1 May 2018 to enable councils and foresters to understand their responsibilities under the regulations and put in place processes to meet these responsibilities.

Foresters and councils have been supported in this process through a series of regional workshops. These were attended by more than 600 foresters and council representatives throughout New Zealand.

The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry will be reviewed in 12 months to ensure they are being successfully implemented.

Source: Minister for Forestry

Canterbury University team is looking for sustainable solutions for NZ forestry

An innovative team at the University of Canterbury’s School of Forestry is working on a breeding programme that could determine which durable sustainable eucalyptus varieties are best for producing high quality wood.

Dr Clemens Altaner, who heads the team, says wood is a biodegradable material and therefore central to a sustainable and environmentally friendly economy, but it can decay or rot prematurely.

Wood can be impregnated with chemicals to make it longer lasting, but these are toxic and some still used in New Zealand are restricted in other countries.

Importing naturally durable wood from tropical countries is problematic because these forests are often not harvested sustainably.

Dr Altaner says some eucalyptus trees provide another option because they are highly durable.  Crucially for foresters they grow fast and straight, which makes them easier to process.

Dr Altaner and his colleagues are now aiming to find which variety is the best option for New Zealand’s climate.

He says:

“We want to identify not only the trees which are the fastest growing, most frost-resistant and most insect-resistant but also those which produce the best quality timber.”

“Selecting trees for wood quality is rarely done due to the amount of time it takes to make difficult measurements, however we have developed new, quick wood-quality assessments.

“Another unique feature of the programme is the assessment of the trees at a young age, drastically reducing the time to deploy improved trees from decades to years.”

Hopefully within five years superior trees identified from the breeding programme will be mass propagated and planted.

All this is done with the goal of creating high quality wood which can also be used to produce engineered wood products such as laminated veneer lumber, both here in New Zealand and to open up additional export opportunities for the forestry industry.

Dr Altaner’s research was awarded a $500,000 grant last year from the Government’s Sustainable Farming Fund, and other funding sources have come from the forestry industry, from seed producers to tree nurseries to forest growers and wood processors.