Gisborne gets first tree in the ground

Forestry Minister Shane Jones has today planted the first tree in the One Billion Trees planting programme at a primary school in Tairāwhiti.

Minister Jones, Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitiri and Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon each planted a native tree at Manutuke School this afternoon. Interim head of forestry at MPI, Julie Collins, and Cindy Wills, the school’s board of trustees’ chairperson, also attended the ceremony and planted a tree.

“While a lot of work has already been under taken on the One Billion Trees programme, today marks the official start of what will be a ten-year effort to get one billion trees in the ground across New Zealand,” Shane Jones said.

“This Government is committed to its tree planting ambitions, which will help create sustainable jobs in our regions and help meet our carbon emissions targets. The planting programme will also help landowners, particularly Māori, use their land more sustainably and will help combat erosion issues.

“I’m making good on my word to plant the first tree in Tairāwhiti – the first place to see the sun. I’m proud to be in Tairāwhiti today with my ministerial colleague, Meka Whaitiri, who went to school at Manutuke.

“The five symbolic natives that we planted – Kōwhai, Tōtara, Kahikatea and Puriri and Matai – are just the start for Tairāwhiti, which has huge afforestation potential.

“Gisborne has the worst eroding land in the country because of poor soil quality and the increasing frequency of adverse weather events.

“Twenty-six per cent of the district’s land is susceptible to severe erosion, compared to 8 per cent of land around the rest of the country. The One Billion Trees programme will see some land in the region able to be retired or used to regenerative native bush and return land to a productive and sustainable state,” Shane Jones said.