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Nurseries call for quicker action on Govt's plan to plant 1 billion trees by 2027

The plant nursery industry is calling for the Government to make quicker progress with the One Billion Trees plan.

The Government is aiming to plant one billion trees by 2027.

“It’s going to take a while to scale up,” Forestry Ministry Shane Jones said.

So far, 60,642,000 trees have been planted since the One Billion Trees plan was announced.

“By the time the next election comes, we would well and truly have cracked our hundred-million mark - a mix of exotics and native,” Mr Jones said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates 500 million trees will be planted through current national rates, but it’s been tasked with increasing the rate of planting to provide the other 500 million.

Lyndale Nurseries director Malcolm Woolmore told 1 NEWS the industry wants to see greater details and action to know the programme is “real".

He said the nursery industry has the capacity to reach the goal but need to know what natives are required, where and when.

“Ninety per cent of tree production is made to contract orders,” Mr Woolmore said, explaining that some natives can take up to five years to grow for selling.

“What they need to do is create contracts, put them in front of nurseries and with real commitment - which means some money.”

Mr Woolmore also said MPI needs greater support to deliver its role in the plan.

The programme was kick-started with $245 million in Government funding, with a further $240 million in funding announced in August.

The latest funding will be made available for landowner grants and "partnership" funding for regional councils, iwi, researchers, non-government organisations and the community by the end of year.

Eligibility criteria is yet to be released.

New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated chief executive Matt Dolan said faster progress is required to get the plan in place.

“Nurseries are a really critical part of the Billion Trees programme, they need to be successful to be able to produce the plants in order to meet the planting targets,” Mr Dolan said.

Shane Jones acknowledged criticism that the nursery industry wants more of a voice in the plan and said he would provide reassurance himself.

“They need confidence, they need cash flow and they need long-term contracts and I would say, ‘Tai ho, help is on the way,’” he said.

“I don’t think it’s fair, however, for them to expect the Crown alone to underwrite their businesses.”

Mr Jones said nursery businesses would be supported if they provide a quality, authentic product, were prepared to be audited and if “society feels it’s money well spent".

A spokesperson for MPI said the department is working with NZPPI to find opportunities to provide support to increase the capability of the industry. 

The spokesperson said in a statement MPI is expecting nursery business to naturally grow as demand for seedlings increases due to the plan.

The industry says it's on track to deliver, but only of the Government takes action now. Source: 1 NEWS