Converting sheep and beef land into pine plantations for the Government's One Billion Trees programme does not bode well for New Zealand's future says 50 Shades of Green Treasurer James Cates.
"Pine trees ... leave a hell of a bloody mess behind ... and that's when they're harvested. The problem I have is the stuff that won't be harvested ... what is it going to look like in 50, 60, 100 years' time from now?"
Today on The Country, Cates debated with Roger Dickie, Director of Roger Dickie New Zealand Limited, Forest, Farm & Property Investments, about whether the Government's billion-tree policy could see the demise of some rural communities.
James Cates and Roger Dickie Forestry Debate Part One:
It's not just farmers who were concerned with the Government's forestry policy said Cates, who pointed out that members of Forest and Bird and Fish and Game also made up the ranks of lobby group 50 Shades of Green.
"You walk into a pine forest, how much bird life's there? Fish and Game [is] very concerned. You go up through a river that runs through a pine forest - trees, slash, rubbish in the river. It's bloody nonsense mate."
"We want the Government to stop blanket partner pines now and then we want a full and independent assessment of the long term effect of the current Government policy."
James Cates and Roger Dickie Forestry Debate Part Two:
The Country's host Jamie Mackay asked Dickie whether the Government was incentivising forestry at the expense of pastoral farming.
"There's no Government incentives whatsoever. The only people getting incentives here are farmers getting incentives to stay out of the emissions trading scheme," said Dickie.
"The Government has created very strong incentives for investor groups like yours to buy up productive farmland for conversion into plantation forestry."
Dickie said this was an example of the free market in operation and he was making an eight per cent cash return on an annual basis on his blocks.
"It's seems to be all about money with you mate to be honest. You can't eat wood mate", said Cates.