Backing the regions

March 26, 2018 11:46 am

Imagine planting a tree that will fix carbon, trap sediments and nutrients, provide pollen for honey bees or timber for a grandchild’s waka.

Imagine that tree growing without attack from possums and rats, and with kiwi, kokakō and kereru thriving in its shade, delighting locals and tourists.
I’ve been travelling the country listening to how communities see their futures.

And I’m excited about how the government’s One Billion Trees programme and Provincial Growth Fund can with fit with our Predator Free 2050 mission to make something greater than the parts.

One of the first grants announced by the Provincial Growth Fund will enable Minginui Nursery to grow up to a million native trees every year and expand its current workforce from nine to 90. Broadband coverage has also been extended to the village to support business.

The nursery was set up by Ngati Whare Holdings less than two years ago to produce podocarps like rimu and totara, manuka and other pioneer species, in order to regenerate iwi-owned land around Whirinaki Te-Pua-a-Tane Conservation Park.

Ngati Whare also manages possum and stoat traps on contract to the Department of Conservation in the biodiversity-rich conservation park and see opportunity to set more ambitious goals. Smart technologies like remote monitoring can help eradicate predators or reduce them to levels where taonga species like tieke, toutouwai and kokako can thrive.

I’m hearing similar stories around the country from iwi, councils and community groups.

Ambitious predator-free projects over large landscapes need to be spread over five to ten years.

Like the One Billion Trees programme, this provides surety of work for contracting teams.

Regional centres will need tertiary training programmes to equip tech-savvy project managers and field workers, skilled in health and safely and engagement with DOC, councils, land owners and volunteers.

Research and development, design and manufacturing opportunities will emerge with demand for more and better control devices, surveillance and biosecurity, with markets not just in New Zealand but around the world.

There’s a big opportunity here to work across government to make lasting gains in the regions.

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