The Forest Dialogue, New Generation Plantations platform, Scion Research and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, will run the next Tree Plantations in the Landscape field dialogue in Rotorua, New Zealand, to foster learning amongst practitioners and wider society, after they have run the previous of these events in March, in Brazil.
The dialogues include a mix of international and local participants, two days of field visits and two days of round table dialogue. The outcomes of the dialogue contribute to the development of a global narrative around the identified topics
New Zealand is seen as a country with a very stable and well-established plantation resource. The following are key topics that will be touched upon in the New Zealand dialogue:
- The opportunity for Maori forestry: The area of land and forests under Maori control is increasing rapidly as settlements are made by the Crown through the Waitangi Tribunal for a redress of past wrongs. The involvement of Maori in the workforce is traditionally higher than in agriculture and the opportunities from forestry in the future are large. Maori tend to have a different perspective to forestry than the large corporates and take a very multi-generational approach to the Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship, of their lands and forests. They are also very interested in different types of forestry systems to the standard radiata pine regimes that are the norm in 95% of the existing estate.
- The billion trees – trees on agricultural lands: The plantings in this major new government initiative are expected to be quite different to new plantings in the past with more emphasis on ecosystem services provided by the forests, i.e. a very different suite of products to timber alone, and different silvicultural regimes. There will be a range of challenges facing this opportunity from land availability and suitability, deciding types of forests to be planted, the physical process of establishing the forests – availability of planting stock etc, and access to labour for the establishment of the trees. All of these practicalities will be underpinned by the need to consider the human dimension of the 1 billion trees and how communities may respond to the initiatives.
- Achieving sustainable intensification on the existing forest estate: With increasing global demand for timber and fibre, New Zealand has been looking at ways to make the most of its existing forest estate and exploring what the potential biological productivity may be. This has been supported by a six-year national research programme ‘Growing Confidence in Forestry’s Future’ (www.gcff.nz). Modifying genetics, stand and site management has the potential to increase productivity significantly using new concepts such a the phenotyping platform. However, the regulatory environment and community concerns about the state of environmental quality means that any such productivity will have to be achieved within strict environmental limits. In addition to these limits, there is limited understanding of current forestry practices and it is likely that intensification will be subject to significant public scrutiny.
- Role of planted forests and NZ’s Paris commitments: In the Paris Agreement New Zealand commits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Trees have a role to play in this as carbon sinks and forestry has been included in the ETS since 2008. New forests will sequester additional carbon and it is expected the ETS and carbon price will influence afforestation rates. Settings will be very important and how these are developed will determine the level of success of tree planting. Agricultural livestock emissions have been rising significantly and significant land-use change is expected with its attendant environmental, social and economic implications outside the forestry sector. A new national Climate Change Committee/Commission has been tasked with working out solutions to the inclusion of Agriculture into the ETS and its implications for land use patterns and other impacts.
The field dialogue will be based in Rotorua with field visits in the central North Island focused on the key topics.