News and views

ForestX Comment

John Hollis, ForestX

In the interest of avoiding repetition of dialogue relating to the environment of change, we are now all having to deal with, let's cut to the chase and focus on solutions to clear the way for the journey ahead.

Bringing a forestry element on to some farms is a concept some would find difficult to accept. However, one message is coming through loud and clear. The old rule book has been hammered by people in town using their political clout. They have sympathy for farmers, but are getting pretty wound up about the environment, expecting change. Our soils and atmosphere need help, and who better to have on board than mother nature herself.

Reducing the effects of greenhouse gasses emitted on farms and protecting waterways, will involve planting more trees. Fact. Simply planting any old tree and hoping for the best is fiction. The process of maximising the benefits to the environment and the farming operation has become a science all of its own. Location, land quality, tree species, the possibility for the farmer to benefit from timber, and/or carbon credits, as well as whether subsidies are available all must be considered. How is the forest or carbon farm managed in the future? The list goes on. The other very important factor in all this is one size does not fit all. To achieve maximum return, you need a professional evaluation producing a very clear road map for each farm directing the way ahead.

An additional benefit of this document is, it will produce part of, if not the majority of, information required for the up and coming need for each farm to have an environmental plan. Take all this to the next level and failure to have all this in place, could affect the value of your farm if brought to the market.

Not all the legislation is in place at the time of writing, but there is one thing for certain. The need for these changes is not going to go away. We need to learn to not only live with them, but also prosper from them as well. Interestingly, it has already been proven, that on some farms, having a percentage of marginal land, the benefit of carbon sequestered far exceed those from grazing, let alone any additional benefit from producing timber. In simple terms, the farm is more profitable, and that's a discussion we all should be having.