Sunday, March 3, 2024

First trees planted in future-proofing plan

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Trees have a bad environmental rap, but a project kicking off in Hawke’s Bay aims to make the business resilience case for them.
Thousands of Himalayan cedar and radiata pine seedlings were planted on erodible areas of Evan and Linda Potter’s farm. Photo: Supplied
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The first trees have been planted as part of a programme to future-proof Hawke’s Bay farms, support rural communities and improve the environment.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and global environmental non-government organisation The Nature Conservancy is leading and funding the programme, known as Right Tree Right Place, in partnership with landowners.

The project supports farmers to plant trees on marginal and erodible land, enhancing their soil health and farm systems.

Project lead Michael Bassett-Foss said it’s exciting that the seedlings are in the ground for the first pilot farm.

“This is a significant milestone for this project, which aims to give farmers the tools, expertise and capital to realise their vision for their farm. If this goes well, we will scale up this project so more farmers can get involved.”

Evan and Linda Potter in Elsthorpe, Central Hawke’s Bay, own the first pilot farm to be involved in the project.

Last week, about 3,300 Himalayan cedar and 10,000 radiata pine seedlings were planted on 13ha of erodible areas of the Potters’ farm. Further plantings will involve native species.

Also read: Nursery aims to make native trees more accessible

Evan Potter said being involved with the programme will change their current pastoral system by reducing about 400 stock units out of the system, reducing their workload and enabling them to focus on pastoral systems on the better land.

“It will add resilience to our business and it will allow us to focus on our better class of land, be more productive, and generate good income off the tougher parts of our farm,” said Evan.

“I know pine trees are a swear word and in some instances trees are a swear word, but it might be worth having a look at what they offer to improve business resilience.”

Bassett-Foss said they will be working with up to 15 farms in coming months to establish the programme and financial arrangements, and will work with participating farmers to develop detailed farm and forestry plans.

“We need an innovative, transformational scheme to slow erosion, improve freshwater quality, enhance biodiversity and support climate resilience.”

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