The New Zealand Forest Owners' Association has welcomed Federated Farmers' new policy on climate change as a major step towards helping farmers understand that trees are not an alternative to farming, but tools to assist in farming's survivability.
Association chairman Peter Clark described the policy, which he said accepted the reality of human-induced climate change after years of policy uncertainty, as "absolutely correct and potentially far-reaching".
The policy states that 'Soil erosion control plantings on steep hillsides will see emissions sequestered in new forest plantings, reduce sedimentation and phosphate in our waterways, and could also achieve biodiversity objectives.'
Mr Clark said more farmers would now see that trees were beneficial and helpful beyond locking up land for erosion control or riparian planting.
"Planting trees for later harvesting also achieves the aims of carbon sequestration, improving water quality, biodiversity and erosion control, as long as the land is again replanted in trees after harvest," he said.
"And, for a well-managed woodlot, farmers will get a substantial return on their planting investment. The return will be easily comparable with pastoral farming, either through eventually selling their logs or selling a farm with tree assets on it.
"Planting trees now will also enable farmers to positively enter into the Emissions Trading Scheme and sell carbon credits, if and when they are required to meet their greenhouse gas liabilities by this or any future government.
"It's not a competition for land use between stock and trees any more than it used to be a competition between farming sheep for meat or wool. There's a place for both on farms."
From that context he would be keen to share with farmers an upcoming NZIER report on the plantation forest industry.
"From preliminary analysis, it's clear the forest industry now ranks economically at being at least as important as the meat industry or horticulture."