Thousands of hectares of farming land is being converted to forestry in Wairoa, but most people haven't noticed, says Dave Read.
In the past six to eight months, Wairoa farmer Dave Read has seen a big jump in the price of farmland, as cashed-up purchasers have bought 10,000ha of pasture for conversion to forestry.
"A lot of people who were maybe, sort of, sitting on the fence and thinking about selling, they're just scrambling to sell now," Read told The Country's Jamie Mackay.
The sales were so fast and prolific, even Te Uru Rākau (Forestry NZ) had no evidence of them, as farm titles hadn't changed hands yet, claimed Read.
According to Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton's report Farms, forests and fossil fuels: The next great landscape formation? the Government will need around 5.4 million hectares of land to realise its One Billion Trees programme, said Read.
"If you look at how much pasture land we've got in New Zealand. If you look at non-dairy and non-tussock, then there's only 5.3 million hectares.
"So the idea that you're going to have the right tree in the right place, is just an absolute nonsense."
"How can you have the right tree in the right place if there are more area of trees than there is area to plant up?"
Another issue with the forestry industry is transport, which contributes more to global warming than sheep and beef farming, said Read.
It's not only land values and the environment that are affected if the forestry boom continues, said Read - people will lose jobs.
"If you look at the local statistics, forestry employs only a fifth of the people per thousand hectares that farming does".
Read predicted the 10,000ha that is waiting for conversion right now will result in 120 jobs lost in a relatively short time.
This phenomenon is being repeated all over New Zealand, said Read, who maintained that forestry threatened the future of not only sheep and beef farming, but the small rural towns and communities that depend on it.
Read said he was part of a "little group" trying to lobby against it.
"We would like the Government to uphold the Upton report. In that Upton report he says that fossil fuels shouldn't be able to offset with carbon."
Read said the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is "a rort" created by economists, and that farmers and environmentalists are actually on the same side when it comes to global warming.
"The ETS is not going to act fast enough to stop the warming and in the meantime the collateral damage is going to be destroying an industry that's not creating any warming anyway."
• Wairoa hill country sheep and beef farmers Dave Read and Judy Bogaard, Waiau Station, won four category awards at the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards. The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award, Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award, Massey University Innovation Award and the East Coast Farming for the Future Award as sponsored by the Gisborne District Council and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.