Right Tree Right Place explores tree species suitable for the Tararua District

Last Friday, Tararua District Council hosted Lochie MacGillivray of AgFirst Pastoral HB Ltd as he presented the findings of an exploration into tree species suitable to the Tararua District. This work was funded by Te Uru Rākau / Ministry of Primary Industries and Tararua District Council.

Council commissioned the research to specifically look at tree species which could help mitigate climate impacts, comply with regulatory consents, contribute to farm profitability and could generate income and work through wood supply and processing opportunities.

MacGillivray outlined the commercial and geographical viability of a mix of ten tree species in his presentation; Radiata Pine, Coast Redwoods, Cypresses, Dryland eucalyptus, Totara, Manuka, Kauri, Poplar silvopastoral systems, Douglas fir and Tawa – of those 5 were analysed in depth. According to the Right Tree Right Place report; “Plantation forests provide multiple benefits to society such as timber, carbon sequestration, erosion control, flood mitigation, improved water quality, biodiversity and recreational resources.”

The full report has identified areas within the Tararua District where the establishment of these alternatives to pine tree species, including hardwoods, is feasible.

As part of the Right Tree Right Place research three case studies were carried out on farms typical of many found in the Tararua District. “In all case studies there was a positive financial gain by identifying low performance blocks and incorporating afforestation into the farm business model. Moreover, there was a decrease in the environmental footprint, with 1 case study reducing nitrogen losses to water by 20%. In addition, all the farms had a reduced CO2 output by implementing this land use change, with one farm reducing CO2 emissions by 23%”, says Angela Rule, Economic Development Advisor at Tararua District Council.

Rangitāne o Tamaki Nui-ā-Rua and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua provided information and recommendations to assist in the selection of tree species for investigation in this project.  A desire was expressed for a return of Tamaki nui ā Rua to trees and vegetation that were naturally, originally here, therefore impacting positively on water quality, biodiversity and on-farm benefits. “Replenish Mother Earth with the clothes that she originally was robed in,” according to James Kendrick of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua.

Another key contributor was Scion, who provided the technical data for the research. Further inputs were sought from landowners, the local agribusiness sector and other professionals. Dr Heather Collins researched the social impacts associated with the rapid land use change in our district and met with multiple communities.

Tararua District Council Mayor Tracey Collis comments: “This research has provided us with tools and information on land diversification which are tailored to the requirements of our community. We now have a better understanding of what sort of land use options could potentially enable landowners to improve financial returns, as well as provide wider ecosystem and community benefits. This research will help Council to guide forestry that delivers the right tree in the right place for us. This includes information support at farmer level as to the forestry options available on their  land. Effective, efficient and best use of land will encourage vibrant communities.”

Findings of the report will also be used by Council to prepare key policy documents about Tararua’s future, such as the District Strategy, the Growth Strategy, and the Housing Strategy.

The Right Tree Right Place reports and presentation are available on Council’s website

The Right Tree Right Place Report – December 2021

The Right Tree Right Place Presentation Slides – December 2021

The Right Tree Right Place Report – March 2021 - The impacts of Afforestation on Rural Communities in the Tararua District.