This week Vincent attended the launch of O Tātou Ngāhere, a joint venture between Tāne’s Tree Trust and business lobby group Pure Advantage. They’re calling for a major shift in thinking about native forests, arguing that it’s not just the job of government but of farmers, landowners and all New Zealanders to plant and nurture native trees. They have a target of 2 million hectares of new native forests – many times more ambitious than the 300,000 hectares proposed by the Climate Change Commission.

Vincent grabbed a few minutes with some of the key contributors to ask why does this matter and what would it look like if you succeeded? He started with Sir Stephen Tindall, followed by Dame Anne Salmond and then Peter Berg, chairman of Tāne’s Tree Trust, and Sheridan Ashford and Adrian Loo, of Future Foresters.

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We know that forests are critical to solving climate change. They absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. They keep that carbon stored as mature trees or as timber when their harvested. They replenish soils, foster rain, provide habitat for other species and make excellent places for mountain bike trails and secret love shacks. Who doesn’t love a forest?

Not us, if you look at our track record. In the last 200 years we’ve cut down and burned more than 80% of NZ’s original forests. What remains of that primeval wonderland are pockets of conversation managed by the government and protected patches on privately owned farms. And where we have replanted trees, we’ve favoured exotic species, especially the mighty pinus radiata, much loved for its fast growing, versatile timber – but not loved for its tendancy to smother native competition and in many parts of the country become a wilding pest.

But that could soon change. A new movement is underway led by Tane’s Tree Trust, a group of fiesty foresters, farmers and scientists, who want to reverse the deline in native forests by rewarding rewarding and incentivising private landowners to plant native trees. They say native forests have multiple advantages and can comfortably sit alongside farms and pine forests as sources of income: as long-term carbon stores, for biodiversity credits and controversially as a source of rare, rainforest timber, fetching high prices on the global stage.

This week Tane’s Tree Trust launched O Tatou Ngāhere (Our Forest), a joint venture with business lobby group Pure Advantage. Together they are calling for a major shift in thinking and practice regarding native forests – that it’s not just the job of government but of farmers, landowners and all New Zealanders to plant and nurture native trees.

This is especially true if New Zealand is to meet its climate change targets. In January the Climate Change Commission proposed 300,000 hectares of new native forests be established by 2035 to provide effective carbon sinks over the next century. Pure Advantage is more ambitious. “We think 350,000 is doable under the current settings,” says Sir Stephen Tindal, a trustee of Pure Advantage. “ And that with the right changes to regulations and incentives, we could achieve the ‘moonshot’, of between 1 million and 2 million hectares of new permanent native forest cover in the next 15 years.

“Successfully achieving this could reduce our current carbon footprint and add numerous other commercial and biodiversity benefits.”