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‘Farming the future’ requires practical support from Government

We read Professor Hugh Campbell’s article on ‘Farming the future’, released on Newsroom last week, with interest. Trees That Count has long advocated for the incentivisation of native tree planting at scale: and now, it seems, cross-sector support is converging to make this a very real possibility for landowners. The missing piece, though, is legislative incentive.

This year, we have seen greater demand than ever before from people seeking support to plant native trees. Trees That Count received over 360 applications for more than half a million native trees for the 2022 planting season: and around 200,000 of these native trees were applied for by farmers.

Campbell traces this line of thought in his article:

“The great ecological frontiers between grasslands, commercial forests, wetlands and native bush in New Zealand have been shifting back and forth for centuries, but we are currently in a phase of strong reversal back towards trees.”

We see first-hand the enthusiasm across communities and landowners nationwide for native restoration projects. In terms of both the regional planting groups we support and the many corporate partners and individuals who choose to support Trees That Count, we know the momentum is only growing—but individual action can only take us so far.

The key to most effectively harnessing this momentum is making the numbers stack up for landowners.

It’s hard to fault farmers for investing in pine when, under current economic conditions, this will deliver a return more efficiently than slow-growing (but exponentially more beneficial) native trees. Farmers and landowners need to be able to make an income from the native regeneration of their land.

As Campbell suggests, the cross-sector support for such an initiative has been gathering momentum over past decades.

Now is the time to explore how government policy can support sustainable investment in native trees at scale. 

Trees That Count has worked for a number of years as a trusted Government delivery partner to enable landowners’ planting ambitions through corporate investment.

In 2022, we have a number of exciting large-scale, multi-year planting projects seeking investment, and we are currently devising systems by which this investment in Aotearoa’s biodiversity can be measured and rewarded. 

We are calling on the Government to champion solutions that recognise corporate investment in indigenous biodiversity in ways that we, as a single charity, cannot. 

It’s time to make the dreams of landholders a reality and answer their demand for support of afforestation: by practically and financially enabling them to carry out the work that Aotearoa’s native taonga so badly require.