Wairoa's mayor says the district is capable of more than just growing trees, as fears grow that precious farmland, and jobs, will be lost to forestry.
In the last four months about 8000ha of agricultural land have been sold to forestry in the district.
Craig Little told Hawke's Bay Today Wairoa did not want to see the entire countryside planted in trees for forestry.
"Whilst trees are wonderful they don't provide a helluva lot of food and we don't want all our countryside planted up in trees."
He said when farms were sold for the purpose of forestry, jobs were lost, in a district which already had higher rates of unemployment than the national average.
A recent report showed 12.8 per cent of adults in Wairoa are jobseekers, compared to 4.3 per cent nationally.
"Unfortunately a few farms were sold recently, and every time you sell a farm you lose about five or six jobs.
"That's something we've really got to work with the Government and they do have to work with us."
Wairoa District chief executive Steven May said it came down to economics.
"Prime farmland, level, is being sold off to forestry because they've got subsidies and farmers can't compete.
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"The farms are selling well above valuation, and that's the economic driver."
Little, who is a farmer himself, said they could not compete with forestry.
"Even a farmer like myself, you love your farm, you love your land, but gosh when you look over the fence and someone is making a lot more by doing nothing, you've got to ask yourself."
He said people from out of the district appeared to think Wairoa was only good for forestry due to it being hill country.
"They need to get up here and have a look for themselves."
Wairoa's electorate MP, Stuart Nash, said he shared Little's concerns about prime farmland being used for forestry.
"This has been a concern for the district of Wairoa for a long time now, ever since I've been involved in politics in the district.
"It has always been my view, as a forester, it's about appropriate land use."
He said there was a lot of land in Wairoa which should be used for planting, but equally there was valuable farm land which was being planted in forest.
"There is no way in my view that we should be planting in productive river flats, or rolling hill country."
He said selling farm land to forestry could mean a loss of jobs, but forestry could also create jobs, depending on the type of forest.
"If you are planting and then pruning and thinning and harvesting and then processing that timber or those logs in the region, then you could eventually end up with more jobs.
"If, however, you are only planting for carbon, ie there is no plan to thin or to prune or certainly to harvest logs for processing, then definitely, there will be fewer jobs."