One Billion Trees injects $422k for research in native seedling production

11:21 am on 8 July 2019

The One Billion Trees programme is providing more than $420,000 in a boost to improve the country's native seedling production.

Forestry section in Port Underwood, South Island, New Zealand

Photo: 123RF

The money ($422,500) will be used to pay for research to identify more effective native seedling propagation techniques and technology.

The research is being led by the Crown research institute Scion in partnership with other Bay of Plenty organisations.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones said the programme was not just about seeing trees in the ground, it was also about reducing the barriers to tree planting.

"We have a significant amount of money available for partnerships like this that focus on reducing the barriers to tree planting through research, innovation or sector development. This project ticks all of those boxes," Mr Jones said in a statement.

"There's also the potential to see a more environmentally friendly approach to seedling production through the use of paper wrap instead of the usual plastic wrap - reducing waste in the industry."

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, also Forestry Minister, Infrastructure Minister, Associate Finance Minister, Associate State Owned Enterprises Minister, Associate Transport Minister

Forestry Minister Shane Jones. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

He said the research aimed to understand what was and wasn't working, and to address key issues like seedling survivability and efficient production.

Scion chief executive Julian Elder said the research would accelerate the planting of native trees.

"Our unique nursery research facilities combined with our other research capabilities in bioproducts allows us to pursue a more sustainable approach for New Zealand."

The One Billion Tree scheme has faced criticism after Forestry New Zealand figures showed that in the first year, of about 91 million trees planted, only 12 percent were native.

The figures are estimates based on the sale and distribution of exotic and native tree seedlings.

Mr Jones told Morning Report that planting native trees was an expensive exercise.

"This is a 10-year programme and there is no doubt in my mind as we ramp up we will see more and more natives."

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