To: Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation; Hon Shane Jones, Minister of Forestry; Hon David Parker, Minister for the Environment; Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture; and, Te Uru Rākau / Forestry New Zealand, Ministry for Primary Industries
Date: 7 January 2020
I am writing to express the Authority’s concern over the under-delivery of native tree planting as part of the One Billion Trees Programme (1BTP). While we commend the efforts that are going into this programme, the lack of native planting, driven by a continued lack of incentive, is disappointing.
Cabinet agreed to a target that two-thirds of new planting under the 1BTP should be indigenous species; the target is not being met. The ‘live’ count available on the MPI website estimates that 12% of trees planted are native species, and 88% are exotic species. The Authority is concerned by this dramatic under-delivery and overplanting of exotic species.
Initial plantings determine the subsequent structure of a forest, and exotic species may have long term influences on soil mycorrhizal and bacterial associations. Restored forests often differ from natural forest, and encourage increased invasive species, such as; invasive root-associated biota, invasive detritovores, invasive predators, and invasive herbivores. These effects are amplified by exotic interplanting and have irrevocable effects for forest health.
We would like to take this opportunity to invite you all to our next meeting on 20 and 21 February 2020 in Wellington, to discuss the programme further. Perhaps, in collaboration, we will be able to ensure a means of incentivising native planting so that native forests can flourish in the future as a direct result of the 1BTP.
E noho ora mai
Edward Ellison ONZM