Forestry Minister Shane Jones says his One Billion Trees programme is one up after he planted a cherry blossom tree at the New Zealand embassy in Japan.
He was half joking, but the tree, cloned from a tree at Daigoji Temple founded in 874 in Kyoto, was gifted to New Zealand by forestry giant Sumitomo Forestry to mark the relationship between New Zealand and Japan in the industry.
Jones was joined in the planting ceremony at the embassy in Tokyo today by Sumitomo Forestry chairman Ryu Yano, whose company has been pushing further into the industry in New Zealand in recent years.
"This cherry blossom tree will be counted in the pursuit in of my one billion tree target because technically it's growing on soil dedicated to New Zealand," Jones said.
"My billion-tree strategy is global in its dimensions."
Jones returns to New Zealand tomorrow after an eight-day trip to China and Japan to seek investment and trade development opportunities for New Zealand's forest and wood products industries.
"It will also allow us to further promote our forestry industry which is one of our largest export earners, with both China and Japan key markets for New Zealand," Jones said.
"With the Government's One Billion Trees planting programme, we know that high-quality overseas investment will play an important role in achieving this ambitious goal."
Jones also attended the eighth Global Wood Trade Conference in Chongqing, China, along with a delegation including wood processing companies, the New Zealand Forest Owners Association and Crown research Institute Scion.
"It's important that we continue to take steps like this to promote strategic co-operation in areas of significant mutual economic potential." Jones said.
He believed the trip had been valuable for the New Zealand economy.
"I'm absolutely confident it will lead to not only further investment but a sharper focus by the overseas investors to domestic issues that are important to Kiwi voters.
"Some of the most important issues to people who empower us as Kiwi MPs are jobs and local industry. Lots of the Japanese, and even the Chinese, I think they all accepted that the high tide of massive exportation of raw logs has probably arrived at our feet. Now our challenge is how do we remedy this situation where investors don't have enough certainty about adequacy of supply," Jones said.
Sumitomo Forestry, through its subsidiary Summit Forests, recent bought 1241ha near Whanganui for $13 million, promising to will gift 148ha of it to local iwi.
Sumitomo Forestry NZ posted a record $48.9m profit last calendar year and its New Zealand forests are worth about $310m.
For the record, the One Billion Trees tree-counter shows 60,556,000 trees have been planted so far.