19 Dec 2014

Trees trump sheep and beef - advocate

7:40 am on 19 December 2014

A farm forestry advocate says planting trees can be a more profitable option on hill country than sheep or beef farming.

Denis Hocking said afforestation was the obvious solution to offsetting New Zealand's increasing greenhouse gas emissions as well as protecting areas of serious erosion.

He believed a million hectares of new plantation would just about offset agricultural emissions for 30 to 40 years.

But he said the Government's emissions trading scheme was proving to be totally ineffective as an incentive for planting trees and that, contrary to its claims, forestry planting was going backwards.

Mr Hocking said, in terms of export earnings per hectare, forestry was twice as productive as meat and wool farming.

"Forestry earns about $2000 per hectare per year from forestry products. Meat and wool is round about $1000. Dairy is well out in front," he said.

"Even the on-farm earnings - a recent study of woodlots harvested in the Bay of Plenty region suggested that the average returns were about $700 per hectare per year ... which is considerably ahead of, say, five stock units per hectare at an average gross margin of around about $100."

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