Our Forests Our Future
Project Status: Current
The Our Forests Our Future project aims to demonstrate the potential, both financially and operationally, and at scale not done before, of establishing and managing native forest for multiple purposes. This project will demonstrate that planted and managed native forestry can provide both production opportunities and substantial conservation benefits within our productive landscapes.
Phase 2 is underway (to be completed in 2018) and involves detailed planning of two large-scale demonstration forests (one each in of the North and South Islands), the progression of sustainable management of the existing totara resource in Northland, and development of the commercial business case. It will also better define non-timber values and establish the project team.
The sustainable management of multiple-use native forests established on previously cleared lands, including high value timber tree species such as totara, kauri, and beeches, has the potential to transform the economies of small communities in many regions of New Zealand. In addition to economic benefits, including increased local employment opportunities, managed native forestry will build resilience into our landscapes for landowners, ecosystems and the wider community.
The Our Forests Our Future project aims to demonstrate the potential, both financially and operationally, and at scale not done before, of establishing and managing native forest for multiple purposes. This project will demonstrate that planted and managed native forestry can provide both production opportunities and substantial conservation benefits within our productive landscapes. It is these productive landscapes that are invariably lacking in local indigenous biodiversity that do not have diverse environmentally sound land-use options for landowners and the wider community to consider.
Progress to date
Phase 1 involved scoping out the feasibility of implementing this project has been completed. Phase 2 involves detailed planning of two large-scale demonstration forests (one each in of the North and South Islands), the progression of sustainable management of the existing totara resource in Northland, and development of the commercial business case. It will also better define non-timber values and establish the project team. Subject to review and ongoing support Phase 3 will see implementation of Our Forests Our Future.
Phase 2 is underway over the next two years (to be completed in 2018). The four workstreams are:
Work-stream 1: Demonstration planted forests
This work-stream lays the groundwork for the planting of scaled-up demonstration forests in Phase 3 where the major costs will be incurred, and shared by a range of funders, investors, iwi and other interested parties. However, there is significant work under Phase 2 to secure suitable sites, plan their establishment, identify best practice, ensure appropriate plants, and involve the community. This phase is critical to ensuring the success of these forests.
Phase 2 is well underway with over 20 sites visited in both the North Island and South Island. Around 4 of these sites (2 in NI and 2 in SI) are showing promise for demonstrating native forest commercial plantings. Detailed planning is underway on these sites, which are at various stages of completion. We have also made contact and visited over 10 native tree nurseries throughout New Zealand in attempt to derive costing’s, plant numbers and establishment techniques. Contact has been made with 2 research institutions, and we are in constant contact with many community groups. We have found that our niche is in providing specialist knowledge in native forestry establishment to landowners who are looking at alternatives to exotic plantations.
Work-stream 2: Building on Northland totara work
This work-stream aims to progress and co-ordinate many initiatives around the utilisation of the regenerating tōtara resource that is developing on private land. Largely this involves supporting the work of the Northland Totara Working Group (NTWG) and partnering with other agencies to progress the vision of developing a sustainable regional industry. It is considered that that would encourage the planting of new native forest areas and the appropriate management of existing stands and scrubland.
Progress so far has included identifying priority research areas and information gaps in the business case and the planning of a large collaborative project proposal to address them. It has also involved contacting many potential stakeholders across the supply-chain. Development of a new NTWG database is a central task to help inform, update and co-ordinate this network.
Work-stream 3: Commercial business case
This work-stream provides the foundation on which significant investment in native forest establishment and utilisation will be based. It will identify the costs and returns that can be expected and will establish a legal framework within which different groups of investors may participate.
Work over the first year of the project up to September 2016 within the first Project Indicator - Define investment opportunity - has focused on exploring leveraging opportunities and initiating economic studies including:
- Developing a funding application to the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) on developing economic and planting calculators and tools for planting and management of native forestry for environmental and sustainable production - title: The planting native forestry toolkit - from planning to implementation.
- Providing input into an Economic Landuse Study project evaluating landuse options for hill country in Northland (NRC/MPI Kaipara Hill Country Erosion Project) which has synergies with SFF bid re calculators and tools, and which has overlaps with aims of the OFOF Business Case Workstream.
For the second Project Indicator - Define and characterise actors - progress has included consideration of potential external funding sources such as crowd or corporate funding of native tree planting for wider societal benefits such as climate change/carbon sequestration, for restoration of indigenous biodiversity, or enhance of wider ecosystem services.
Other early progress has included contribution to costing analyses for various planting scenarios for the potential Demonstration Forest Sites in the Waikato and Christchurch regions. In particular, a Planting Options and Costing Plan has been produced for Waipa District Council for establishing native forestry to meet multiple objectives at one their reserves on the eastern flanks of Mount Pirongia that has the potential to include demonstration forestry stands for the OFOF project.
Work-stream 4: Non-timber values
The involvement of the wider community in the proposed planted forests, along with the associated environmental and cultural benefits, will ensure significant non-timber values from the project. Consideration of these values at the earliest planning stages of the project will maximise this involvement and the resulting benefits.
The focus over this first period of this project has been the development of a Rapid Site Assessment Form for Non-Timber Values by Work-stream Manager Kirsten Crawford in collaboration with other work-stream managers. This table includes all the Progress Indicators for this Work-stream:
- Environment – identify significant areas of biodiversity and outstanding landscapes;
- Economic – recognise non-timber economic opportunities, e.g. honey, carbon, medicinal plants;
- Social - identify short and long term employment opportunities;
- Cultural – incorporate culturally significant sites, plants, training;
- Recreation – maximise opportunities, e.g. walking, mountain biking;
- Education, research, promotion – explore wider opportunities for community uptake min 6 entities.
As part of the aim of the first works-stream - Demonstration Planted Forests - where we are identifying suitable sites for planting native forest, the indicators are being used to prompt discussion with stakeholders and potential project partners to identify and record site-specific non-timber values during site visits and meetings.
To date the Rapid Site Assessment Table is being used at several potential sites and with potential stakeholders and collaborators including 3 sites in the North Island (Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty) and 2 sites in the South Island (Christchurch city, north Canterbury). Evaluation of the Table across these sites has allowed further refinement of key considerations in the identification and importance of non-timber values for stakeholders.
Phase 3 - Implementation
Subject to review and ongoing support Phase 3 will see implementation Our Forests Our Future. Partners and funding will be explored under the current Phase 2 planting stage. Opportunities exist for defined corporate and iwi involvement, both directly and downstream, resulting from investment in the planting of native species on a large scale.
Contacts for this project
- Peter Berg, Chair, Tāne’s Tree Trust