Press Release: Welcome increase in government funding for tree planting

Posted on September 06, 2018

The Poplar and Willow Research Trust has welcomed increased government funding for tree planting.

Trust chairman Bruce Wills says the extra funding was to repair damaged and eroded landscapes. “Poplar and willow trees are absolutely the best species for achieving that. It has been reported that land north of Gisborne and nearby Tolaga Bay, which has widely spaced, established poplar plantings, suffered minimal damage at the time of the recent disaster resulting from land planted in radiata pine.’

The Government announced an extra $240 million through the Provincial Growth Fund last month for the One Billion Trees programme (in addition to the $245m already committed to kick-start the programme, which includes funding for joint ventures and the expansion of the Hill Country Erosion programme).

Mr Wills says Landcare Research scientists have reported total root length of poplar and willow trees after three years growth from a pole was more than other trees tested (alder, oak, lemonwood, radiata pine, redwood, blackwood, eucalyptus, tutu) by a factor of 3-40 times. “The difference is dramatic.”

Already more than over 200,000 hectares of North Island hill country land is protected from erosion by poplar and willow plantings. Regional Councils are actively working with land owners to increase planting of these valuable trees before slips occur.

“This is much the preferred approach rather than waiting until slips occur and then doing remedial planting. Research shows the productivity of land where a slip has occurred only achieves 80 per cent recovery, even after 50 years.’

Poplars and willows have the advantage of being planted as poles for a quick start. These trees provide quick-growing shelter and shade for livestock either as shelterbelts or as space planted trees on hills.

Mr Wills farms in Hawke’s Bay, which has recently had the signing of the Kahutia Accord MOU between the Hawkes’ Bay Regional Council and Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated aiming to plant millions of trees on 250,000ha of erosion-prone land across the region. The Kahutia Accord is a formal partnership to help Hawke’s Bay to become New Zealand’s first carbon neutral province by 2040 – a target highlighted in the Council’s Strategic Plan.

‘Working on the mantra ‘right tree, right place, right time’ some areas will be pines and some manuka and other natives, but to maintain profitable and resilient sheep and cattle land, a lot more poplars and willows will be required. That’s great news,” Mr Wills says.

More information on the benefits of poplars and willows is available at including tips on erosion control/spaced plantings being eligible to enter the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Any queries please contact Trust General Manager Ian McIvor on 021 226 8673 or or Trust chairman Bruce Wills on 027 2341516.