Te Ao i Whiria: Exploring a vision for a mixed use of land
Trees suck in greenhouse gas, clean the air and water, and provide homes to native wildlife. Well need a lot more of them to address the climate and biodiversity crises. Too often, climate policy and forestry expert David Hall warns, people have an all-or-nothing mindset: either an entire block of land is covered in forest, or its bare. Wed benefit from a more nuanced view. As well as mopping up carbon emissions, trees and vegetation make land more resilient. They minimise slips and erosion during storms, absorb water during floods and retain moisture through spells of drought. Trees also make our world that much more beautiful. READ MORE: * Cyclone Gabrielle may hint at a future of 'double climate disasters' * Moves to limit pine would force landowners, Maori to forego ETS cash * Carbon farming land will be 'losing money in 100 years' East Coast report Diversifying where and how we include trees would echo the Maori tradition of raranga (flax weaving), Hall says. Mana whenua would be more able to act as kaitiaki or custodians. The promise is that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, Hall says. Currently, this is what we typically do with land: Pasture for farming. Grass paddocks provide food for sheep, cattle, cows, deer and goats. Horticulture. Fields and greenhouses grow grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Exotic plantation forest. Rows of non-native trees often pine are planted . Every couple of decades, its clear-felled, producing wood and pulp. Native conservation forest. Old-growth or regenerating native bush is preserved, maintained by the Department of Conservation, iwi and other landowners. People across the country are introducing these systems, and more is needed : Riparian planting. Landowners fence off waterways and plant native seedlings on riverbanks. Restoration efforts boost the health of waterways and wildlife . Habitat restoration. Landowners, businesses, councils and community groups restore an ecosystem and reintroduce threatened native species. Woodlots. Farms convert a paddock or two from pasture to trees that are regularly harvested. Urban forestry. This counts the trees in parks and public grounds but also street trees. Leafy suburbs are generally sought-after , but trees are often forgotten in new, densifying or lower-income areas. We need more natural protections: rain gardens and biobanks that guard against flooding. Then, there are newer ideas adding more trees in the mix: Agroforestry. Rather than plain grass paddocks, farms intersperse trees allowing animals and vegetation to mix. The livestock benefits from shade and a second food source. Root systems strengthen the ground, and leaf litter boosts the soil. The trees might be harvested or (depending on the density) registered for carbon credits, to provide more income. Native plantation forests. This may be controversial, but species like totara can be a good timber crop. Its slower-growing than exotics, but faster than most other natives. Selectively logged forests. These plantation forests arent clear-felled. Smaller trees might be left to provide homes for displaced wildlife or protection for a waterway. Close-to-nature forestry. To avoid every tree being the same age, native seedlings are regularly introduced. Decades after being established, careful logging is allowed providing revenue. The canopy should remain intact, so forest crews try to mimic the natural death of trees and protect biodiversity. Transitional forests. Using a fast-growing nurse species, a canopy is quickly established to provide shelter. Decades or centuries later, slower-growing kauri, rimu and kahikitea replace the originals. The nurse species might be thinned, but the following subsequent generation is left to mature. Carbon farming. Landowners receive income by planting exotic or native species or a mix of the two on bare or unproductive land and selling the greenhouse gas they absorb as carbon credits. Trees are never harvested.