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Shifting societal views:Trees as public infrastructure

Shifting a society's view on trees will take more then year, but the recent devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle may illustrate the need for New Zealands native tree species to grow. Within New Zealand, trees are seen as cash flow, whether harvested for profit or unharvested for carbon credits, but their long term benefits greatly outweigh their short term profits.

Forest canopy and tree roots protect a region’s soft soils from wind and rain, which reduces erosion and sedimentation. Flood risk is also reduced because trees capture and divert rain water, which regulates the volume and speed of floodwaters.

The ultimate goal is to mitigate climate change risks, therefore shifting our view from planting short term pine forests for carbon credits or milling, to planting lifelong new forests – whether exotic or native, will help to create a resilient New Zealand . To reap the full benefits, such forests will need to remain unharvested, or only selectively harvested. Native forests have the added benefit of recreating natural habitat, which can replenish the unique biodiversity of Aotearoa.

Ultimately, there needs to be a societal shift in how we view, manage and protect New Zealands forest network, working with the environment, not against it.

For the full story by David Hall, click here



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