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The hard change of forestry

Written By: - Date published: 10:41 am, May 18th, 2019 - 98 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, Economy, employment, Environment, ETS, farming, farming, global warming, health and safety, nz first, Politics, quality of life, Shane Jones, sustainability, unemployment, workers' rights - Tags:

Forestry is forcing an important tilting point between mitigating climate change and land use, and it’s going to affect the viability of some North Island towns.

The Minister of Forestry Shane Jones made a pre-budget announcement this week that Te Ururakau/Forestry New Zealand will receive $58 million to push the sector to achieve its 1 billion trees promise.

According to Shane Jones, the funding will allow foresters and landowners to have the support they need and will also see the agency focus on the Government’s goal of developing a sustainable, domestic forestry workforce.

Planting trees is great on many fronts, including doing good for the climate. But there’s no turning back from it. Once committed to forestry, the land can never be used for any other purpose. The destruction of farming infrastructure (fences, yards, buildings, roads, etc) over the life cycle of forestry, and the huge cost of re-developing the land into pasture, would mean that little if any hill country would ever be reconverted from plantation forestry back to arable farming.

On top of this the ETS requires this land to be maintained for forest. The result for rural New Zealand hill communities isn’t good. Depopulation, loss of services, and ageing resident remaining populations degrades small towns to near nothing.

This is what the Wairoa Mayor has spoken out against recently, when he saw major cattle farms being sold off to overseas interests for conversion to log growing.

The Wairoa Councillor for Hawkes Bay Regional Council Fenton Wilson spells out the negative societal consequences of growing raw logs instead of arable farming:

The high price of carbon and the ability of foresters to pay above the odds for farmland is a worrying trend for Wairoa. We are just recovering from land use change from pastoral farming to forestry that occurred in the 1990s.”

Mr Wilson said this led to a district-wide population decline.

That happened then, but with a resurgence of land-use change to forestry, we will see population decline challenges over the next few years. This will negatively impact on our town, because the reality is trees planted en masse do not need stock agents, teachers, shearers, trucking firms or services on the main street of Wairoa.

Every hectare that converts to forestry has a direct negative impact on current employment, including the viability of AFFCO if enough livestock leaves the district.”

Some might not be worried about the viability of a plant designed to kill animals, but there are many small rural towns in New Zealand who actually never recovered from the loss of such plants in the 1980s and 1990s, and most of the employees who lost those long-term jobs were Maori.

The path to carbon neutrality will be neither smooth nor easy on New Zealand’s rural economy.

And it is true that as more east coast storms hit the Gisborne-Wairoa area, great blankets of well rooted trees are going to be needed more and more to protect the remaining land.

On the North Island’s East Coast, with steep and broken country long cleared of native forest, crop forestry is however necessary to prevent erosion. This has been spelled out in the Kahutia Accord. This is a Memorandum of Understanding between Ngati Kahungunu Iwi incorporated and Hawkes Bay Regional council. They are aiming to plant millions of trees on 250,000 hectares of such land across Hawkes Bay. It aims to help make Hawkes Bay carbon neutral by 2040, which is a laudable goal.

This accord also enables major planting of native trees in sensitive riparian area, which is also a good thing.

But despite laudable aims, growing raw logs also misses strong productivity increases that could have been made to the New Zealand through this massive and growing change in land use.

The government’s efforts to increase forestry productivity have been through its Crown Research Institute Scion, and focuses on the genomics of timber yield and quality.

There’s no doubt demand for logs as a simple commodity is what the world needs from us. So many of our sawmills have shut down because they simply failed to compete. But as for high quality finishes and products, nope, it’s all about the bulk commodities. We are not a nation of cabinetmakers and high end furniture designers that might use all this wood, apart from a few notable exceptions.

Forestry gangs get paid badly, and always will. Forestry work is also notable for its high rate of deaths and injury, which is taking some time to turn around.

Based on fatality rates per 100,000 workers, forestry in 2018 was the most dangerous form of agricultural work at 56.73, followed by 13.44 for agriculture and 2.38 for construction.

Yes, the world wants our logs, with 44% heading overseas. Seven countries – Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Indonesian and India – account for 80% of the value of these exports. Much of that export is in low-value logs that you can see piled up in the ports.

And there’s no doubt this is a great time to invest in growing logs since with prices so high there’s re-planting to do aplenty.

According to the situation and outlook data on exports, forestry remains New Zealand’s fourth largest exporting category.

Don’t get me wrong the One Billion Trees is a bold and inspirational programme on a number of policy levels. According to the Minister’s media release this week there have been:

  • 61 million trees planted since the One Billion Trees Programme was launched.

  • Crown Forestry entering into 21 commercial joint ventures – many of which will enable Māori to realise the potential of their land – and enable the planting of nearly 11 million trees;

  • Launching the One Billion Trees Fund and entering into 15 partnerships (approx. $28 million) and approving 36 tree planting grants (approx. $2.4 million);

  • At least 52 full-time equivalent jobs created with a further 50 trainees, with the potential to grow significantly from here;

  • Approving nearly $36 million of funding over four years to establish over 13 million trees on more than 21,000 hectares of hill country erosion prone land; and

  • Launching Matariki Tu Rākau – in partnership with regional communities, enabling the planting of approximately 40,000 trees.

  • Introducing Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – the Forestry Scholarships programme awarded eight scholarships in 2019, beginning a sold investment in the future of our forestry workforce, and

  • In conjunction with Corrections, developed a work place pilot programme that will provide up to 15 prisoners from Northland Region Corrections facilities with Forestry training and work experience.

But it’s reasonable to ask where the growth part of the Provincial Growth Fund is when a crop change also changes an existing rural society on balance for the worse.

Growing pine trees en masse may not build the actual society that we want.

98 comments on “The hard change of forestry ”

  1. Sabine 1

    to be honest i have no good answers.

    but, what would have been / would be if nothing were done, and no changes were attempted and no trees were planted?

    what would the outcome be for the same towns?

    and what society would we have if we do not plant trees en masse? Considering this


    taken from here


    I have only lived here for twenty years, but i am as is my partner astonished by the fervor with which we cut down trees, any trees, everywhere, with no regards to nothing. The Road to Taupo used to be lined in trees, now it is lined in baked brown dirt – and nary a cow to see.

    The question that I would ask, 'can we plant our way out of misery and have we started just in time, or are we only fooling ourself now'.

  2. RedLogix 2

    On the North Island’s East Coast, with steep and broken country long cleared of native forest, crop forestry is however necessary to prevent erosion.

    One modest quibble. I personally witnessed the aftermath of Cyclone Bola and it was clear that plantation pine forests were nowhere near as good as native forest in preventing catastrophic erosion.

    Frankly I'd prefer to see much of the East Coast regenerate organically with only select land turned into pine forest. Besides pine plantations on steep land are much more expensive to prune, maintain and harvest.

    Still you are quite right, in the broader scheme of things, the future of towns like Wairoa and the communities that depend on them are going to change. And it's the local people who are best placed to respond intelligently to that. Government needs to listen.

    • Ad 2.1

      Agree. The Kahutia Accord emphasizes a large role for native plantings.

    • greywarshark 2.2


    • bwaghorn 2.3

      The anicdata I'm getting is that it isnt the highly erodable back blocks getting planted it's the high quality sheep and bedf land close to good roads and ports . It's to expensive to harvest the back blocks and the mess after the steep country is logged is terrible. Just ask the people that use the Nelson harbour .

      • RedLogix 2.3.1

        Yes that's my understanding as well. I've been told that a lot of pines on steep backcountry will never be harvested; the economics just don't stack up.

    • barry 2.4

      I agree, and in the aftermath of Cyclone Bola foresters were paid to replace manuka scrub with pine trees to prevent erosion.

      These same trees were recently cut and the slash ended up coming down the rivers with the slips in the last lot of storms.

      Production forestry has no place in erosion contro0l. If it is too steep to farm then it should be in native bush.

    • francesca 2.5

      There is also Tane's Tree trust which has been advocating for continuous canopy of native timber trees and high end selective logging for years.


      This concept ticks all the boxes as far as I am concerned

      We need a nationalised forestry again, so that we dont have short rotation pines being the only game in town.(private foresters want the payoff in their lifetime, maybe twice)

      We should be also going for longer rotation, higher quality heartwood

      UK institutions, notably universities maintain woodlands..often oaks so they can replace worn out components of their ageing buildings.They keep planting with the long term in mind, not short term profit

      We need to develop a different attitude towards the species we use and the time scale

      • greywarshark 2.5.1


        Great comment, great points. Things we must do if we want to go ahead with the determination to win far more than we lose of our projects and ideas and our treasured nz culture.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    They ought to get permaculture consultants on board. All that wasted land in between the trees could be growing productive crops, eh? Forest garden design is an area of expertise in permaculture. Soil fertility would vary of course, but testing & analysis would inform people what else is viable to grow in any particular place.

    Regional resilience would be enhanced by locally-grown crops, and there'd be employment of gardeners to maintain them. A regional UBI could be trialled, with recipients required to do x hours gardening per week.

    • greywarshark 3.1

      This is the news today.


      Image with Shane jones and Winston Peters.

      We are supposed to be a country into agriculture etc and yet we are still concentrating on systems introduced after the 1930s Depression. Tree plantations. We had one bright idea, fast growing pine and have done well from selling logs of that, though it needs chemical treatment to give it effective long life.

      In the 21st century the systems that Red Logix speaks of should be the norm. Where is Norm I ask?

      One of the main problems however is the mad desire to get rich quickly with exports hence the opening up of our borders that previously cloaked our shores, keeping our goodies so that we could extract and exploit them and perhaps with measures of good husbandry if we tried and Maori kept at us to practice kaitiaki. Prostitutes don't offer themselves for nothing, it is their livelihood they have to think about. Can't Treasury and the other smart leaders keep their feet on the ground and stop trying to live in the casino-financed-economy?

      We have to sell our land, our water, our …. whatever we can. We are desperate to get lots of money moving past our door, but have got to the stage that we have to arrange roadblocks giving us time to steal some from the back of the truck. That's how the poor people survived in Naples. You can read about their culture in The Broken Fountain by Thomas Belmonte if you can get a copy. Underneath our mountain of throwaway clothes we are naked, same as ever. Civil defence says that we can only last three days without help as a norm, and advises we need to be able to last a week. Sudden sackings will see us destitute without help within three months.

      That is what is behind the difficulties that face this government. That is a large part of the problem that Shane Jones faces. Don't blame him for not having the ability to set up intelligent systems. We have had a conservative, uncaring voting bloc of RW voting National who have no intention of doing what is needed to make things better for you. We know their black hearts from reading them here, where they are only a mild version of Kiwiblog and Facebook vile malcontents.

      We must keep on trying to support those attempting good, not cutting them off at the knees, but chivvying them, thinking of what they could do and asking them to do that or explain why not, and we might together be able to push Sisyphus' stone up the hill; one can't, but friends united can.

      We must learn to embrace our purpose(the rock) in life. And once we accept it as the objective of our being, we should give in [it] everything it takes to achieve it. Sisyphus teaches us to never give in to circumstantial disappointments or try to escape from the failures, rather accept failures the same way we accept our achievements.m/takeaways-from-the-story-of-sisyphus-and-the-rock-81721c6e499

      This sounds obsessive to me. But the point of accepting there will be failures but keep facing to the task and the path, not wandering off too far, seems a good point. And it fits with No.8 in the *Stoic list I put up a few days ago. This is long but long thought-through ideas as well as pithy comments are needed so we can think our way to meet our growing needs for change and embrace of humanity.

      *Stoic No. 8 in here. https://www.njlifehacks.com/what-is-stoicism-overview-definition-10-stoic-principles/

      • Robert Guyton 3.1.1

        "We are supposed to be a country into agriculture "

        Are we? "Supposed to be"?

        Says who?

    • greywarshark 3.2

      Hi Cleangreen What say you?

    • WeTheBleeple 3.3

      You've never made more sense. wink

      Sign me up to supervise.

      We could diversify into many things but people want cookie-cutter monoculture systems still. We've not understood that biodiversity is a huge part of resilience despite the writing on the wall.

      Anything over a 15 degree slope should be left to go back to natives.

      We could plant a billion trees by replacing the shelter belts that used to line dairy paddocks. Nitrogen fixers, habitat, fruit, nuts, timber. Less cows yes, but less fert and feed inputs, less pollution, a more interesting farm, more soil building, more products. Farmers would be just as well off, the land better off.

      We do redwoods that grow better timber faster than pine – but we can't mill it here anymore. Likewise we could grow rimu, kauri (species), and more. We've shot ourselves in the foot with monoculture every time and now the industry is piss weak at resilience.

      Add to that the industry desire for clones… totally susceptible to one bug or the next. Armillaria novae-zelandiae, a local fungi, could take the pine forests out just wait till climate change weakens the pines and watch.

      It's about the integration of ecology with industry, covering the country in pine is good for industry not ecology. Go take a walk in a pine forest – it's a bit of a biological desert.

      • Dennis Frank 3.3.1

        yes Yeah, folks like you with enterprise & expertise are what's required. As Grey points out, traditional thinking is endemic. Takes a pioneering stance to overcome it, and what we need is to embed a new pioneering ethic in regional development.

        Just one technical question. I'm surprised you reckon crops are inadvisable on slopes greater than 15 degrees. You must know that hillsides around 45 degrees have been used in Asia for millennia via terracing. Too intensive for here? Permaculture uses swales as a basic strategy on slopes, as you know, so I'm wondering at whether there's something I'm missing in this picture.

        • WeTheBleeple

          Terrace farming is way over our pay grade. We've not learned to catch rain yet.

          Any tilled/bare land over 15 degrees is an issue – it simply can't cope with the rain and the topsoil winds up clogging interstitial space in the rivers destroying fish habitat. This area must be left to trees and clear-felling is destructive and very poor practice. Selective logging can be used, honey crops, fungi… we can use a lot of tree crops that bear fruit/materials as these needn't be cut down.

          It's the 'investor types' who are the problem, we don't have people peopling the land, we have investors plaguing the landscape.

          • greywarshark

            Something comes to mind. Are our land structures too young or too shaken by earthquakes to do terracing as they have in Asia? They have built their terraces up over centuries haven't they?

            • WeTheBleeple

              Why would we want to do terrace farming?

              We have fertile lowlands and the hill country is where nature traditionally filters our water for us.

              Terraces are high intensity and hard work for high populations.

              When you look at a landscape theres a point from up high where most slopes go from concave to convex. That is the typical sweet spot for settlement. not a frost pocket, not a heat trap, not exposed. Above this tree crops. Around us tree and perennials. In the flood-prone (thus requiring no fertiliser) low zones, annuals. Also, the wetlands belong in the bowls in the land, for habitat, diversity, replenishing aquifers, filtering toxins and denitrification.

              • Dennis Frank

                Fair enough. How does hemp fit in then? Thinking of the shade factor. Even with pruning of pines to develop straight trunks, after say 5 years sun-hungry crops will become non-viable in a plantation due to shading.

                From a regional development perspective, depressed areas like Northland and Ruatoria could be helped by growing these fungi: https://www.nztruffles.org.nz/about-truffles/growing-truffles/

                "The highest price paid for a New Zealand truffle is reported to be equivalent to NZ$9,000/Kg. Farm gate prices for Grade A Perigord black and bianchetto are around NZ$3,000 – $4,000 plus GST/ Kg."

                Imagine the cultural transforming effect of a community trust doing it. Using stakeholder design, so that all the workers know the profit share they will get from each sale. Do you know about the marketing side of any such scheme? Easy to cut a capitalist in, obviously, to get the sales done, but a workable alternative would be preferable.

                • WeTheBleeple

                  Truffles will sell themselves just let the chefs know you have them. But growing them is a crap shoot despite good design there's no gaurantee you can stop their competitors getting there first. Infected trees are what's required and I imagine they fetch a pretty penny each.

                  We cannot cultivate the fungi without a tree host.

                  Everyone asks about truffles when one mentions fungi, there's plenty of easier to grow contenders that would easily fit in with mixed forestry.

                • greywarshark

                  The price for truffles is dependent on their quality and scarcity. Bring more truffles into the market and you change the balance. If they become popular you will have to sleep outside with a shotgun which some avocado growers, manuka honey beekeepers might already do in their high season.

                  Out in the rural areas I think there are pockets of light-fingered people and a tolerance for male criminality; eg rustling, slaughtering animals, burning down someone's hay barns a la Macdonald near Feilding. In town it would be impossible to get away with such behaviour. I think we have to be aware of the shifty nature of some rural inhabitants leading to helping themselves to local resources.


                  There were a number of other outstanding charges. In June 2007, Macdonald and Callum Boe had killed 19 calves belonging to a farmer who had caught them poaching his deer. Macdonald was also convicted for burning down an old whare (Maori hut) and emptying thousands of dollars' worth of milk from a vat on another neighbour's farm. These acts were committed "for retribution" after Macdonald and Boe were informed on for trespassing and made to apologise. Anna Macdonald testified at the murder trial that her husband's relationship with Boe was "immature", and she was unaware of what they were doing on their regular night "missions". When police found out about these missions, they visited Callum Boe who by this time had moved to Queenstown. Boe admitted to his involvement and, in the process, provided police with an insight into Macdonald's behaviour. They arrested Macdonald and charged him with murder soon afterward.

                  • Dennis Frank

                    Yeah, high-value products attract crime. I gather from WTB's response that growing them is more a matter of luck than skill, which explains the high prices. A venture for the right clued-up folks, clearly.

          • WeTheBleeple

            On the employment issue.

            A dairy farm converted to (mostly) native forest could supply:

            Fibre, timber(s), honey, foodstuffs, medicines. Just off the top of my head.

            If we're that dead set on enlarging tourism (cos flying to the furthest blip on the planet isn't an issue, right) we should send them all home with some local products.

            They won't fit the logs in their carry on.

    • bwaghorn 3.4

      You seem to not understand what ubi is . Work for the dole is what you suggest.

      • Dennis Frank 3.4.1

        I admit to being old-fashioned. I believe everyone ought to contribute to society. So I prefer a design for UBI in which free money is granted on the basis of contributions. The universality is, for me, a conditional entitlement. Parasitism breeds bad mental health, therefore public policy ought to incentivise people to refrain from being that self-indulgent. Yeah, I've always been non-conformist. devil

        • greywarshark

          I call that practical DF. The days of wine and roses are over, if you aren't prepared to turn out and spray and weed and prune and gather as part of an organised team.

  4. mosa 4

    What about the dying oceans.

    It is terrifying the pollution that is now in our food chain.


    • greywarshark 4.1

      Yep that is bad, no bader, no baddest. What can be done with this stuff?

      Can we get an entrepreneur perhaps from India where they seem to come up like mushrooms. Can something be done with some of the stuff that earns money, and that money be paid to people picking up and packing some of the other stuff. Could plastic sheets be sewn together to create a hot-house effect between the trees, and then soil making stuff be composted in plastic bags and food grown in them quickly under the hothouse influence?

      It's so enervating hearing all this bad news, though we have to know. But we also have to have other people with innovative minds that can think with the locals on what they want and how they can do it. Once something is happening it makes people happy and they just might be able to manage without having some poncey foreigners touristing there and spoiling their favourite places. Perhaps have annual concerts, and then they have a year to recover and some cash for the extra tools, resources etc they require, and communication stuff.

  5. demand for logs as a simple commodity..lordy, could we aim any lower? Probably not.

    When we have visitors I simply dread driving them past the Napier warfes and the ever growing piles of shitty young pine trees they have piling up for export.

    And I hate to think of the damage to our planet shipping the darned things round the world. World Wide Solar powered log transportation?

    • Robert Guyton 5.1

      Chuck 'em into the tide and trust they'll get to their destination.

      • greywarshark 5.1.1

        They link them into rafts in other countries. Could a raft of logs be towed by barges? The weather on the various coasts could make it impossible.

        Are there some areas that are viable for towing even for only some parts of the year?

        • WeTheBleeple

          The tidal drag makes it all improbable at best.

          We could use known existing currents – except they too are in question with climate change.

          • greywarshark

            I have the feeling that where raft logging has been used it would have been on rivers that are flowing one way, towards the sea and there would be little changing current until there are estuaries.

          • Robert Guyton

            Existing currents would be ideal…if we were exporting logs to Easter Island.

  6. AB 6

    When communities are affected negatively by private corporations moving investment out or shifting jobs overseas – we tend to shrug our shoulders and say that this is how the economy works and always has. When government actions, however well-intended, precipitate downstream effects that are exactly the same, we get upset. It's a curious inconsistency.

    Government-driven action to do something about climate change will have the same problem, multiplied many times over. It therefore needs to operate within two broader principles: no significant economic harm to anyone from necessary change, and the winners from change compensate the losers. A Green New Deal of sorts.

    Implementing such principles on the ground in a place like Wairoa is horribly difficult no doubt. But it's not good enough to drive a big change in land use – and then let the market do its usual bloody business downstream of that change.

    • bwaghorn 6.1

      From what I saw just recently mr Guyton Helen Clark's vanity parks are rapidly going to pines and such and when you think that north island hill country does 8 to 10 stock units a hectare and south island alpine does 1 stock unit to 10 hectares or more its a no brainer what land we should be stopping farming.

      Wrong thread but my reply function is so hit and miss I cant shift it.

  7. greywarshark 7


  8. bwaghorn 8

    Just more clearances of the rural folk to make money for the rich. Because that's all the carbon trade will achieve.

    We have huge expanses of tussock and mountainous country that could grow conifers . Plant that

    • marty mars 8.1

      "We have huge expanses of tussock and mountainous country that could grow conifers . Plant that"

      why? so greedy bullshit artists can make money?

      Leave the tussock and mountains alone – do the golf course, motorway verges – bulldoze the 3rd and 4th homes and plant them on that land.

    • Robert Guyton 8.2

      Tussock country? Isn't that farmed by the high-country fraternity?

      And in any case, aren't lodgepole pines planting themselves into those areas?

      Are you advocating letting wilding pines run free, bwaghorn?

      • bwaghorn 8.2.1

        From what I saw just recently mr Guyton Helen Clark's vanity parks are rapidly going to pines and such and when you think that north island hill country does 8 to 10 stock units a hectare and south island alpine does 1 stock unit to 10 hectares or more its a no brainer what land we should be stopping farming.

  9. fustercluck 9

    "Mitigating climate change" Ha. Rising CO2 has already increased tree cover worldwide far more than human tree planting programs will. There are good reasons to protect the planet, i.e., clean water, air, reduction of poisonous pollution, protection of wild spaces, etc. But mitigating CO2 is not one of them. The planet is fine with the CO2 levels we have and are likely to produce. If you want to help people, greening urban environments is far more important. Localised climate change is real and it has serious health consequences. But most people want to create "carbon" trading scams for the rich far more than they want to help people in need, I guess.

    "Once committed to forestry, the land can never be used for any other purpose" What utter BS. Just look at the dairy farms in the central North Island being carved out of forestry.

    This is an important conversation and actual facts would be helpful.

    • Robert Guyton 9.1

      I'm with fustercluck (a sentence I never expected to writesmiley

      Mostly, anyway. The path to averting the destruction of the environment is through the kinds of things you have described, fc, imo.

      • fustercluck 9.1.1

        Common ground is closer if we all heed my grandfather's final advice to me; You must keep your mind free of ideology. Greenland glaciers are thickening, climate models failed to predict this. We should focus on what we KNOW and we will do great things together.

        Re: the glaciers:


        • Robert Guyton

          What actions, fc, protect us from capture by ideologies?

          Join the Skeptics Society?


          • Incognito

            Frontal lobotomies are apparently very effective in fending off ideological thinking and other neurological disorders. Alternatively, education is vaccination against indoctrination.

            • Robert Guyton

              Education and indoctrination are … similar, n'est-ce pas (ne ra?)

              • Incognito

                Similar but different. National are better managers of the economy and Labour is all about tax & spend is indoctrination and based on false beliefs (myths). Inequality negatively affects the economy of countries is education and based on verifiable facts.

              • fustercluck

                Robert: Critical thinking is central. Logic. Recognition of common fallacies (the ad hominem fallacy is the most tedious and all too common as is the appeal to authority fallacy, central to so many discussions about "climate change" policy!). Genuine debate skills, i.e., the ability to articulate the opposite side's argument better than they can and still defend your own with facts and genuine arguments is art almost lost to our society. Education could set so many free and it is instead far too often little more than indoctrination.

                • Robert Guyton

                  Fuster; heart is central. Critical thinking, logic and so on, are useful back-ups, if there's a need to prove a point. Story-telling ability trumps debate skills, imo, if your objective is to convince the audience. Education, eh! The answer is ako and that's a shared experience between learner and teacher and can't happen till there's genuine cooperation.

          • Dennis Frank

            Skeptics are captive to their own ideology, Robert. As opposed to sceptics, who are sceptical by nature.

            My answer to your first question is a) having an open mind (which means giving due consideration to whatever an ideology is designed to exclude) and b) transcendence (which includes seeing the big picture, for most people, and the praxis of shapeshifting between one's portfolio of identities in response to whichever ideology the people you are talking to are captivated by.

            For instance, my praxis here is to concur with elements of leftist thought when appropriate, and differentiate between them and sensible centrism when appropriate. The former establishes common ground, and I use the latter to illuminate the downsides of leftist beliefs (so as to enhance the common good).

            • Robert Guyton

              Admitting to having a "portfolio of identities" might leave you open to the charge of duplicity or insincerity, Dennis?

              • Dennis Frank

                Technical possibility, but would arise from misunderstanding of human nature. We all do it somewhat. I became aware of the effect long ago and learnt to become more adept at it, but it is really merely a social skill.

                Psychologically, you can sense how a social context is influencing you to show a part of yourself that is suitable, in order to play the part in that context that you want to play.

                The way I ended up thinking of it was that the various selves I've evolved through in my seven decades are all a natural part of me still, including the inner child. Self-acceptance. As a young adult I was more future-oriented, determined to leave the past behind (childhood trauma), but psychotherapy eventually produced a more integral me.

        • Macro

          Well actually the reversal of that particular Glacier is not exactly unexpected by some climate scientists (despite what the BBC says) and indeed there are several at Leeds University who are studying this, as always to gain more understanding. It doesn't mean that AGW has slowed or reversed. Not at all. What it indicates is that in any system, where you increase the energy content from an external source there will be areas that heat up faster than others, and some that cool temporarily. Imagine placing a candle under a glass of water. It doesn't heat up uniformly, warm water moves to the top, and the cooler water moves to the bottom. And so it is with the Earth having an energy imbalance from increased GHG's .The Earth no longer emits the same amount of energy into space in black body radiation, that it receives from solar radiation. One of the causes of the mini ice age in the Northern Hemisphere during the last natural warming period (before the current Holocene) was caused by just an event as that which is occurring in Greenland. The Northern Hemisphere at that time had far more ice than is currently covering Greenland, and Ice melting from the North American Ice sheet as well as the Greenland Ice sheets was such that it slowed the flow of warm water in the Gulf Stream and caused an area of extreme cold in the north Atlantic. One of areas that has been experiencing cooler than average temperatures on the Planet is exactly that area. Most other areas have continued to experience above average temperatures as expected. The Ice Sheets in the northern hemisphere are no where near the size they were prior to the Holocene, and so we are not likely to experience another large but localised area of cooling such as was experienced when the Earth warmed to experience the Holocene.

          One or two Glaciers slowing down for a short period is not something to give any confidence. The Earth has lost 9 over trillion tonnes of ice since 1961 – and the rate is increasing despite the thickening of ice of one glacier in Greenland. We are currently losing a total of 335 billion tonnes of ice a year, corresponding to a rise in sea levels of almost 1 mm per year.”

      • Macro 9.1.2

        Actually Robert what FC wrote is total rubbish. We are not safe with the current levels of GHGs, and heading rapidly towards catastrophic global warming. The current level of around 410 ppm has probably not been experienced on Earth in 15 million years. At that time humans did not exist.

        Yet deforestation of the planet continues at a depressing speed.

        If we do not slow our rate of emissions drastically, within 30 years the mass of GHG in the atmosphere will hit a level not experienced in 50 million years (around the time of the Jurassic period and the extinction of the dinosaurs) It will be, by then probably be too late, to prevent feedback loops from kicking in, and initiating runaway global warming the like of which we cannot imagine.


        Yes ETS's are crap, but we have a population of voters who firstly fail to understand the perils that await their children and grandchildren, and continue to act as if nothing serious is going to happen – well at least not until they have exited this mortal coil – and so are steeped in materialism they hate anything that remotely suggests they should change the way they live. Carbon taxes, and governments that attempt to introduce them, in almost every instance globally (apart from BC) have a very short life.

        • Robert Guyton

          Hey, Macro. Your list of humanity's failings doesn't inspire and is therefore not useful for those who are both hopeful for a result and active in achieving one. Just saying' Your view is widely held, I reckon and will be very, very popular as the situation unfolds and there will be great need for some people more hopeful, seemingly, than yourself, to help the general population avoid debilitating despair.


          • Macro

            Robert I have been advocating for environmental action for decades now – re-establishing wetlands, tree planting, managing arboretums (NZ's oldest is metres from my front door). I have always worked and hoped that we could bring positive change in the way we as humans interact with the planet. I hate to think of the world my g'kids are going to inherit in a few years time, and many of them totally understand what lies before them! Far better than their parents. The window of opportunity to address our GHG emissions is just about to slam shut. Yet still we see parents and g'parents driving massive 4WD's when a small vehicle would do the job just as well. That is just one example of the disconnect that the majority of people have with the way they interact with the Earth and the resultant eternalised costs of their behaviour.

            I'm sorry if I sound pessimistic, because I am. I cannot see any way now, that humans are going to change the way they behave until it is too late.

            The election of Trump, the re-election of Nat/Libs in Aus, the fervour in the UK for Farage and his demented lot, the rise of far-right parties in Europe, makes any hope of the world making radical change to address the environment and AGW impossible.

            Here is the latest offering on the future from Gaia Vince published in the Guardian today:


            • Robert Guyton

              Hi Macro – I understand your despair, especially in light of your previous efforts to make good our mess in the outside world; pessimism is an unavoidable stage all sensitive, maybe all people, have to go through once the realisation hits home. But it isn't the final position. Beyond despair there is something else.

              I reckonsmiley

              • Robert Guyton


                ‘Why we are heading for extinction,’ begins the title of the talk, ‘and what to do about it.’ The remaining half hour is the bit about doing. What is striking is that Roger makes no attempt to row back on the bleakness of what he has already told us. There is no bargain on offer here – ‘If everyone does X, then all this scary stuff will go away’ – only the observation, backed up by research on social movements, that those whose willingness to act endures the longest are not the activists who are motivated by outcome, who need to be given hope and to believe in their chances of success, but the ones who are motivated by doing the right thing. It’s the first time I can remember seeing a call to action which explicitly invites people to go into despair. In the closing minutes of his talk, Roger speaks about ‘the dark night of the soul’, the need to move through the darkness rather than avoid it. This is a call to rebellion that is framed in the language and draws on the traditions of mysticism.

                I don’t say that this is without precedent; indeed, part of Roger’s argument is that the rational, secular logic of mainstream Western activism, with its dependence on promises of progress, is the anomaly, while the stance for which he speaks has more in common with what has sustained grassroots movements in other times and places, and continues to do so. But this is the first activism around climate change in the West that I’ve encountered that has roots this deep, that draws on spiritual traditions without slipping into New Age wishful thinking or fantasies about a collective evolution of consciousness. It’s the closest I’ve seen to an activism that can answer that question I didn’t know how to answer back in 2010: what do we do, after we stop pretending?"

                • Sabine

                  To give up hope is not to accept things as they are, but to accept the fact that they areas they are. All my ranting against the status quo just wears me out before plunging me into despair. How much better it is to see reality as it is and then go on to consider what to do about it.

                  from here


                  this guy wrote this a long time ago and i tend to agree.

                  keeping hope means we expect others to fix our broken stuff……like, i hope the guy who ask me to 'be my leader' will be the person in parliament to fix stuff. No, he/she won't but we will pay him/her a nice wage and his hope to a better life have materialise. 🙂

                  IF we want chance, we need to change.

                • Macro

                  Hi Robert,

                  I'm simply looking at the reality of the Earth's current level of atmospheric GHG's – around 410ppm. Even if by some miracle humans stopped emitting GHG's overnight the Earth will continue to warm until the energy imbalance is stable (ie the energy the Earth emits in black body radiation reaches the Energy it receives from the sun) We are far from that point on current projections. Hopefully climate sensitivity is low, in which case with 410 ppm we could peak out at around 2 Degrees above what was the ave temp for the 10,000 + years of goldilocks period in the Holocene. There is no way that we can hold AGW to 1.5 Degrees a la The Paris Agreement. That figure was reached using a very low estimate of climate sensitivity. Essentially politicians accepted a calculation that was spurious for political reasons but had no basis in reality. About a decade ago a study was done where the same thought experiment was performed. Imagine the world stopped emitting GHG tonight. What would be the resulting Ave Global Temperate – even then with a GHG of around 370 ppm the calculation was for an eventual temperature of around 1.3 degrees. Again assuming a relatively low climate sensitivity. Recent studies indicate that climate sensitivity is not as low as some have previously suggested and that it is at the upper end of the scale, which means that we are really only at the beginning of the rapid increase in temperature rise that the Earth is experiencing.

                  The reality is that staying under the 1.5C threshold is now nigh-on impossible, says King. Meeting the 1.5C target now means overshooting and coming back down using negative emissions technologies that “suck” carbon dioxide out of the air. The report will need to be explicit about this, he says.

                  King is cautious about overstating the world’s ability to meet the 1.5C goal, given that no single technology yet exists approaching the scale that would be required. He tells Carbon Brief:

                  “We will need negative emissions on a large-scale and for a long period of time to bring global temperatures back down to 1.5C. This isn’t possible with current technologies.”

                  Earlier this year, Carbon Brief published a series of articles on negative emissions, including a close up on the most talked-about option – Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) – and a survey of which technologies climate experts think hold the most potential.


                  In the meantime fossil fuels continue to be subsidised by Govts to the tune of $US 5 Trillion per year (That's oil, coal, and gas). So there is no way on Earth that people are going to stop burning fossil fuels and stop emitting copious quantities of GHG's anytime soon.

                  We can have a revolution and yes I believe the time is drawing nearer when people will again rise up. But look how long it took to establish some sense of order and equality after the uprising in France in 1789? The regime change may have ben fairly quick – but it wasn't really until 1870 and the establishment of the 3rd Republic after Napoleon III and Eugene that France finally became a settled state. Revolutions have a tendency to replace power with a power vacuum, a la Iraq after the Gulf war, the Arab spring uprising, etc. the resulting chaos and disorder can take years to resolve and a country to begin to function again. In the time such disorder occurs the Earth will continue to warm. Disorder will be no more effective in combating and dealing with this existential crisis than current Govt's.

                  There are several solutions to the threat that Earth faces. Sequestration of Carbon in the oil fields, (This carries the risk of escaping CO2). Seeding the upper atmosphere with reflective particles to cut the amount of solar radiation. This would be a long term effect and with a drop in GHG would lead to a global cooling which could be equally threatening with no way of removing the reflective particles. Greening the Earth is of course a major factor but we are dreaming if we think that it will manage our profligate use of fossil fuels, amassed from millions of years of carbon based material. Just remember how long it took that tree to grow that you burn in your wood stove in a few hours. And how long it too that lump of coal to be formed. Or that litre of petrol.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    Put that way, the future looks grim, Macro. However, Sabine just mentioned that she's planted two trees today, so I'm going out to put a couple in myself. Consequently, I'm feeling quite chippersmiley

    • bwaghorn 9.2

      There's a huge difference between converting flat land to dairy and converting hill country to sheep and beef . It could be done but the cost would kill it

      Of course the clever foreign owners of the flat land around taupo leased it to the nz government so they do all the hard expensive work and they get the finished fertile farm back in 40 years.

    • greywarshark 9.3

      CO2. According to Allan Savory if we cover the soil by growing stuff, and when it is annuals, allowing animal herds in to eat the tops and defecate, and trample the rest down as mulch, we hardly get any loss of CO2 and aid moisture trapping and soil content and no doubt the soil fungi. So doing that AND doing the innercity living bit would be double good.

      But there is fierce opposition to Savory's work and statements about CO2. Perhaps there should be two studies of his work, one to be how it operates to improve conditions and the land for the people in the area, and the second what scientific conclusions can be drawn from it with one factor being the CO2 component and carbon sequestration.

      It seems that if you try to change agricultural habits there is a hostility to that and a large number of scientists will turn their attention to proving the challenger is remiss at the least, and totally compromised at the worst. So it seems wise to note that changes will not be warmly welcomed and it could be that there are commercial interests such as fertiliser sales, seed sales, equipment sales, that could be affected as well as lifetimes spent pronouncing truths that are now being questioned.

      Allan Savory v conventional wisdom with endless iterations. From the Sierra Club, a very large USA group begun in 1892 that has helped retain areas as national parks. About the Sierra Club and the below link is a long one about Savory and his methods to which they appear negative.

      'The Sierra Club is one of the best-funded environmental activist groups with over $79 million in assets on its last tax return. … Tides has collected over $200 million since 1997, most of it from other foundations, and in turn uses that money to fund environmental activist campaigns." https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/194-sierra-club/

      The counterevidence I had been referencing says this: When there are too many cows in places with intermittent or little rain, where the vegetation is brittle and the soil fragile, the animals spell trouble. Overgrazing denudes the soil and produces erosion, which leads to a landscape where plants can't revive and grow. At least 8.4 billion acres on the planet are grazed, and 73 percent of that land is suffering from some form of land degradation, according to the International Journal of Biodiversity. The problem is perhaps worst across arid lands where plants evolved with almost no exposure to large grazers, such as in the mountainous west of the United States—where Savory happens to live. https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2017-2-march-april/feature/allan-savory-says-more-cows-land-will-reverse-climate-change

      This long Sierra item by Christopher Ketcham seems to be to prove a theory scientifically and uncontrovertibly. Allan Savory seems to approach his work from – does it work – will it keep on working – for the people and the land in the area if they stick to the methods established. Building computer models; people want reliable results.

      • WeTheBleeple 9.3.1

        I can tell you for a fact that our Ag scientists are a bunch of apes imitating and echoing each other. They'll bash the thinking out of you at school. All our Farmers are taught the same extractive arts, rarely do they have a f'n clue about ecology till it is thrust upon them. A conversation involves them falling back on the standard line, no thinking just robots.

        I told those eejits tree crops would save us so many times, crunched numbers, pulled references, and what did I get "have you compared the production values with today's systems" and them doing DODGY MATH INVOLVING ZERO OFFSETS proceed to ignore the cost of inputs and declare my thinking wrong by comparing apples and oranges. They know they are frauds and so will deny and deride anyone who can think.

        This government seems to be yet another in a series of frauds posing as concerned for our welfare but pumping shit into the air land and water just the same. Planting trees is all they got because business interests still want their pound of flesh. No solar supplement because privatised power shareholders will sue. No EV subsidies because oil.

        Fucking spineless mirrors of each others worn out sentiments and shonky data manipulation.

  10. cleangreen 10

    You didn't state that the Minister said also in hiis press release that we need Gisborne to be investing in recieving a rail upgrade too right?

    Quote; In this press release (below) on 16th May 2019 from Hon’ Shane Jones as the Government’s Regional Development Minister, he confirms that the rail from Gisborne needs to be ‘upgraded’.


    That also will work to get the trucks off the roads which are killing many as the potholes and uneven roads now are dangerous to drive on and cost us all billions in the process, so there are many positive ‘advantages’ and benefits also.

    Greens had a similar rail from road freight policy in 2016 to transfer freight back to rail.


    Shane is now advocating this for several reasons as well as safety it will also lower our freight transportation climate emisions too.

    Big picture needed here, advantage please.

  11. Stuart Munro. 11

    As with any other crop, monocultures aren't ideal, especially over a region. Some thought ought to be going into forestry type crops that do provide ongoing seasonal returns and work.

    That might begin with bamboo, include fast growing coppicable species like poplars and willows, or include timbers that provide a crop as well as decorative or resistant timber, like chestnut. The various lacquer producing trees and sugar maples represent healthy alternatives to the neverending radiata. Hemp must fit somewhere in that lineup too.

    • Robert Guyton 11.1

      "As with any other crop, monocultures aren't ideal, especially over a region"

      You're the Master of Understatement, Stuart!

      • Stuart Munro. 11.1.1

        Yeah – someone pulled me up on the assertion once – the southern beeches having reached something pretty monocultural in some areas. But you'd think if we have to have radiata everywhere the least government could manage would be a few songi/matsutake growing underneath = income and employment in the non harvest years.

        • Robert Guyton

          Southern beeches might seem like a monoculture, but that's without counting their associated fabulously varied fungal communities; just coz we can't see 'em, don't mean they ain't there…

          • WeTheBleeple

            If they're older cohorts a bit of selective logging might actually help the forest.

          • francesca

            Now there's an idea Robert

            Psilicybe makarorae, only known in NZ, is found amongst the rotting debris of southern beech forests
            More widely known as a species of magic mushrooms


            Psilocybin is now being seriously reconsidered as a valuable therapy for depression , addictions , PTSD, amongst other mental disorders

            Maybe it could even help us shift our harmful attitudes towards the natural world


            • Robert Guyton

              That's a very interesting proposal, francesca and dovetails elegantly with my reply to Macro.

              • WeTheBleeple

                I discovered a new species of Psilocybe here, so we have at least two unique 'species' (all part of the cyanescens complex when the DNA is done). The 'expert' ignored me but I persisted till he finally, with a mental pat on the head for moron me, came along. He was on his hands and knees like a child when he saw them.

                Another self-fancying muppet who doesn't like anyone knowing stuff they're meant to know.

                You could pick significant (economic) quantities of several species from several ecosystems in NZ without even needing to cultivate them. (don't do it, still class A).

                Good thinking Francesca, some of the research coming out is astounding in its implications. I reckon these fungi helped me though my PTSD, though I'm still hyper-vigilant at least I'm not drunk 24/7 anymore.

                The study where a single dose gave terminally ill folks a better end of life for at least six months was astounding. Single dose medicines that create more empathy – not sure they'll ever approve such a radical thing.

                PS For what it’s worth, I have all Stamets publications here – these fungi are some of the easiest to cultivate.

                • Robert Guyton


                • francesca

                  Amazing what you notice when the eye becomes attuned to the tiny elements of the ground floor

                  I'm still swimming every day(quite a revelation in itself)and on the walk to my swimming hole, I've noticed an amazing green mushroom, got a peaked cap , maybe 5cm across.Never seen it before, no idea what it is but its utterly beautiful

                • WeTheBleeple

                  Actually, three unique 'species'.

                  Wereroa, almost puffball like in shape.


                  Makarorae, and their pixie hats


                  And my find, the form of which is intermediate between the Wereroa and a typical Cyanescens, in that it is a 'normal' looking (goldtop type) mushroom, but only partially opens. I supect they stay mostly closed to aid in long term spore dispersal. I have observed them existing for several months above ground.

                  Anyhoo, we got three unique one's, and that's money.

                  • francesca


                    We also have this one


                    The name suggests its first sighting and identification was around Auckland

                    Seems to grow happily in pine forest

                    There may be an ecological benefit of allowing pines to mature way beyond their usual 25 years

                    Nearby here, a pine forest was not considered to be worth the cost of milling so was left for 40 years.I regularly saw live powelliphanta snails here, and lots of regenerating natives .Life was quite rich and various

                    The pines have been felled , and the land is quickly sprouting a new pine forest , self seeded

                    • WeTheBleeple

                      Oh yes, how could I forget those (P. aucklandii). They grow in the local park.

                      I found another suspected psilocybe but the specimen was degraded by the time it was tested. It grew under Kaka beak at the uni, and would only last a day or so before vanishing, saw it a few times over the years. Like some Coprinus species it seemed to be able to self destruct in sunlight. It was distinctly goldtop/blue staining colored, but yeah, so flimsy.

                      I wanted to call it ephemerii.

              • francesca

                Thumbs up to you Robert

  12. greywarshark 12

    What good stuff can come up when practical informed people put their minds to work. Now find some Practical Informed and Committed people with some power to get things done and we are away. If we climbed to the top of Mt Victoria high in Wellington you get a good view from there and maybe even to the Beehive and surrounding tall business buildings. Is there a way of fixing a GPS on people who have the Pic points from above?

    Any in Auckland – sighted from the Skytower?

    • francesca 12.1

      Another reason for being up in the green belt above Mt Victoria is the bounty of porcini mushrooms underneath the pines

      • greywarshark 12.1.1

        You people are so clever and knowledgable. It's interesting reading all you know. I guess you'll keep in contact, like two heads + are better than one. Is there a science grant in that subject?

  13. McFlock 13

    From what I gather, pine is planted because it can be harvested relatively quickly. Essentially just another industrialised monoculture.

    Seems to me that land use needs to be more complex than that – divided between pine, rimu, plum/cherry/walnut, oak, and with grazing spaces, too. Different areas on different harvest cycles (from months to centuries).

    But that requires a different perspective – pays more to do outputs that you can profit on in yourt lifetime.

  14. greywarshark 14

    This NZ research pdf could be informative to some of the questions arising. https://www.grassland.org.nz/publications/nzgrassland_publication_2577.pdf

    Production, environment and social benefit of agroforestry systems © 2013 Proceedings of the 22nd International Grassland Congress 1003

    Balancing pastoral and plantation forestry options in New Zealand and the role of agroforestry(8 pages)

    The New Zealand Tree Crops Association (NZTCA) is a voluntary organisation promoting interest in useful trees, such as those producing fruit, nuts, timber, fuel, wood, livestock fodder, bee forage and other productive crops. ‘Tree Crops’ is the affectionate abbreviation by which NZTCA is widely known.

    NZFFA was formed in 1957. Membership is spread over 27 Branches throughout NZ, and there are 6 special interest groups. We estimate our members own or manage up to 100,000Ha of forest, and influence the management of a similar area. These forests consist of radiata pine; cypress; eucalypts; redwood; blackwood; other exotic species and managed indigenous forests.



    Farmer experience with tree fodder
    Use of trees for drought feed on New Zealand farms has been practised … Farmers obtain tree fodder by pruning and pollarding soil conservation trees, and by….


  15. Pat 16

    Yet another outcome of neoliberilism….by abdicating control and trying to use 'the market' to acheive a result we have again ignored its sole motive to the detriment of society….tis about time it was realised the market serves only itself , not us.

  16. Janet 17

    And all those ships carrying all those logs far and wide …. are they going to go back to be sailing ships ? Better the over populated countries grew more trees themselves and stopped grabbing our land to grow monocultures pines.
    Also better the logs be cut into flitches on site before exporting and the "waste " go back onto the land .
    The forests should be rotationally harvested eg a 25 hectare pine forest should after 25 yrs have only one hectare per year harvested. This allows the bio diversity that has established under the forest to remain.
    So much so wrong going on out there…3 yr thinking not 300 yr thinking.

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