[27 May/Stuff]

A shortage of labour and land could result in growing pains for the Government’s 1 billion trees programme. The Government planned to plant 1 billion trees by 2027 to grow regions, create jobs, offset carbon emissions, enhance biodiversity and reinvigorate New Zealand’s forestry industry. Forestry currently covered 1.7 million hectares of land. Ministry for Primary Industries estimated up to 1 million hectares would be required to plant a billion trees. Nearly 7 million trees have been planted and more than 67 million seedlings sold for planting in 2018. The recent budget allocated $258 million to the programme. Forestry Minister, Shane Jones, said they would aim to plant 110 million per year however finding people to plant and maintain trees could be difficult. Hundreds more workers were needed to ramp up planting. He noted another barrier would be the historical attitudes of farmers who feared tree planting would diminish farming capacity. Forest Owners Association Chief Executive, David Rhodes, said the programme was challenging but doable.