Ambitious tree planting policy lacking labour

The Government’s ambitious house building plans will be difficult to achieve unless sufficient trade labour is available, and there are insufficient numbers of experienced people available already.

The same problem faces another ambitious project – planting a billion trees.

Stuff: Labour shortage could create ‘significant issue’ for Govt’s 1 billion tree target

A shortage of labour and land could result in growing pains for the Government’s ambitious 1 billion trees programme.

Shortly after the Government was formed last year, it set itself the lofty goal of planting 1 billion trees by 2027 as a way to grow the regions, create jobs, offset carbon emissions, enhance biodiversity and reinvigorate New Zealand’s forestry industry.

The recent Budget allocated $258 million to the programme, and Forestry Minister Shane Jones said planting rates would increase from 55 million trees a year to 70 million in 2020, and 90 million in 2021.

“From there we will be aiming for 110 million a year over the next seven years of the programme,” Jones said.

However, finding people to plant trees let alone maintain and harvest them could prove difficult, he said.

​”We’ve got a challenge – we can’t find enough workers as it is.”

Forest Owners Association chief executive David Rhodes…

…said the 1 billion trees programme was “challenging but doable”.

A lack of labour would be the main thing holding the programme back, he said.

“It’s clear that there’s a significant issue out there and we are going to struggle to find the numbers. That’s going to have to be addressed or we’re going to have a problem.”

Unemployed people would need to be trained and migrant labour would be needed, most likely from the Pacific Islands, who had traditionally filled forestry roles, Rhodes said.

Horticulture already has a lot of trouble getting sufficient labour to pick things like grape and fruit, and to harvest vegetables. One problem is it is seasonal work, but another problem is that these jobs are often in more rural areas where there is little labour available and urban unemployed are unwilling to move to.

Forestry has a bigger potential problem, as most of that work wil be even more remote from civilisation and labour.

40 Comments

  1. Grimm

     /  May 27, 2018

    It seems the only thing they didn’t promise was to cure cancer. Ironically, everybody would have scoffed at them for that, but a couple of $billion into cancer research might have cracked it. Instead they are doubling down on what everyone knew were nonsense policies. Build a hundred thousand, plant a billion. They were never real policies. They should stop wasting everybody’s time and money and get on with solving child poverty…

    Oh wait, let’s reopen that embassy instead.

    • David

       /  May 27, 2018

      But it will be such a nice embassy!

      • Gezza

         /  May 27, 2018

        To be fair, we’ve probably struggled to get noticed in the world without it.

        • Grimm

           /  May 27, 2018

          Except we have several dozen embassies already.

          • Gezza

             /  May 27, 2018

            Sweden must be where it’s at though, Grimm, obviously. Whatever IT is, Sweden must have it.

            • Grimm

               /  May 27, 2018

              On reflection, Sweden has Abba and Ikea, oh and that chef from the Muppets.

              Kinda fitting.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  May 27, 2018

              And they used to have 101% top tax rate,

              The writer, Astrid Lindgren, was being charged this because she was self-employed, so paid tax on that, and being self-employed was charged for her employee…herself. Thus she was paying 101% tax, and was unlikely to have been the only one who was paying more in tax than she was earning. I don’t know what such people were supposed to live on or how they were supposed to pay the 1% which no bank would be likely to lend them.

            • Gezza

               /  May 27, 2018

              I find that pretty hard to believe, Kitty. That someone was being charged more in tax than they earned. There must be a more to that story than that.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  May 27, 2018

              Can easily happen here with penalties, G.

  2. David

     /  May 27, 2018

    Is there really anyone who has had a passing glance at politics expecting NZ First to follow through on its promises..aside of course from its deep pocketed friends in the fishing and racing industry.

  3. PartisanZ

     /  May 27, 2018

    There are other problems for workers in the horticulture and forestry industries –

    – Mostly piece-rates and often weather dependent and/or casualized, (and seasonal) resulting in relatively low pay. This makes many of these ‘vocations’ almost exclusively suitable only for younger, very fit workers … as well as being rural and outdoors.

    Planters and pruners are paid by the tree …

    Meantime the very same young people are being actively encouraged to stay at school longer, obtain higher qualifications and have lofty career ambitions and goals. (A reality incompatible with the idea of socialist indoctrination by teachers). This often means leaving their rural-provincial homes to study and/or work in larger urban areas …

    – Highly repetitive manual work means greater risk of numerous repetitive strain injuries … ie picking and sorting … planting …

    – Physical danger, especially in forest pruning and harvesting …

    – Exposure to toxic agri-chemicals … especially in hort pruning, picking and packing …

    – Imminent threat of replacement by mechanization, redundancy to robots and AI … What’s the future in some of these industries for young people?

    In the same way that toxic agri-chemicals are incompatible with the idea or ‘food and nourishment’ … a digi-industrial ‘high tech, growth oriented, high skill, added value, entreprenuerial, income growth [via trickle down … yeah right]’ economy simultaneously requiring ever larger numbers of unskilled workers returning to a kind of rural pre-industrial peasantry equals ‘major disconnect’ …

    The use of cheap immigrant labour is as unethical as it is economically sensible … equals ‘major disconnect’ …

    If we’re gonna have an economy so reliant on primary industries we must create viable career paths within them … the potential for apprenticeships, ongoing training and promotion is limited only by imagination and … bottom-lines … profit margins … The ‘ideologies of greed’ that nowadays take precedence over human beings …

    Blaming the relatively new Labour-led coalition government for what are almost entirely long-standing systemic problems – including macro-economic ones – is essentially infantile …

    • Grimm

       /  May 27, 2018

      “Blaming the relatively new Labour-led coalition government for what are almost entirely long-standing systemic problems”

      Nope, blaming them for idiotic, bumper sticker slogans disguised as policies, that they have no chance of implementing. And worse, aren’t necessary or relevant anyway.

      And if they were serious about them (cough), then surely they would have reflected “long standing systemic problems” as one of the risks in their policy formulation?

      • PartisanZ

         /  May 27, 2018

        Bumper sticker slogans like ‘Roads of National Significance’ …

        Delivery is very often more difficult than ‘Policy Formulation and Sales’, as National found out with The Flag Debacle.

        • Grimm

           /  May 27, 2018

          There were seven of them, based around major population areas. There were over 200 pages of economic assessment done on them nearly a decade ago, and hundreds of hours of consultation were done.

          And these roads were actually built or underway.

          Hardly bumber sticker, don’t you think?

        • Grimm

           /  May 27, 2018

          Remind me what the Flag Debacle was again?

          I remember it as Labour and the Greens sabotaging their own policy, integrity and ability to ever change the flag, due to their petty politics and hatred of John Key.

          • Gezza

             /  May 27, 2018

            I wouldn’t say you were wrong there, but personally I’m glad we never got stuck with that god-awful All Blacks tablecloth as our new national rag. And I’m charitable enuf to assume maybe up to 2% of their supporters may have rejected it for aesthetic reasons as well.

            I’m trying to video as many different types of aircraft going over my place to land at the moment. I keep missing Jetstar – all I ever seem able to get out there in time to catch is Air All Blacks.

            I wish to god they’d bring back the old Koru livery. The obsession with All Black patches has gone too far when they have to stick on the bloody national air carrier aircraft as well. Ridiculous.

            • Grimm

               /  May 27, 2018

              I guess plane spotters aren’t really their market.

              Air NZ changed the flag by default years ago, to something that differentiated them from Australia. As did every national sports and cultural team.

            • Gezza

               /  May 27, 2018

              I guess plane spotters aren’t really their market.
              Avian Aviation Authorities are probably worth listening to though.

      • PartisanZ

         /  May 27, 2018

        ” … surely they would have reflected “long standing systemic problems” as one of the risks in their policy formulation?”

        Oh FFS Grimm, as though ANY political party or candidate does this?

        You’ll love the exceptions: TOP, Democrats for Social Credit … and Bernie Sanders.

        • Grimm

           /  May 27, 2018

          More deflection.

          That’s the point PZ. They did NO work on it, let alone consider the risks.

    • PDB

       /  May 27, 2018

      No – people are blaming the relatively new Labour-led coalition government for promising to plant a billion trees they knew would be impossible to deliver upon. Your long winded prattle is simply a diversion.

      • PartisanZ

         /  May 27, 2018

        A “diversion” like any attempted explanation, exploration of wider issues or broader understanding compared to your one-eyed, ideological prejudice and sloganism* PDB …

        *sloganism … self explanatory … New WOrd #154

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  May 27, 2018

          PZ, if your posts were shorter, they would be less likely to be skimmed over.

          • PartisanZ

             /  May 27, 2018

            • Gezza

               /  May 27, 2018

              3 good points in one line 👍🏼

            • Gezza

               /  May 27, 2018

              Don’t think I can necessarily agree with that last point though. Do you have any links to support it? 😳

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  May 27, 2018

              I can’t agree. I thought that the last point was the best. The first was a little weak

            • Gezza

               /  May 27, 2018

              Perhaps you would like PZ to elaborate?

          • PartisanZ

             /  May 27, 2018

            The length of my posts is self-explanatory …

            I couldn’t give a hoot for the opinion of those who don’t care to read them …

            EoD … (End of ) …

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  May 27, 2018

              But they are so long that it’s a real turnoff. Seriously.

              Can’t you abb

            • Gezza

               /  May 27, 2018

              PZ has a fair point Kitty. When they’re too long or convoluted and somehow manage to tie unrelated issues back to colonialism, neo-colonialism, capitalism, or Frank E Warner, & you’re just not in the mood for it that day, there’s obligation to read them & make any comment.

            • Gezza

               /  May 27, 2018

              Soz
              *there’s no obligation…

              I accept not everybody wants to know more about pukekos, for example. Oddly enuf.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  May 28, 2018

              You might care for the fact that people don’t actually read them, as the comments suggest,

  4. Gezza

     /  May 27, 2018

    How many of Shane’s nephs have got off their sofas & thrown themselves into the project? Has he said? I can’t find out with Google.

    • PDB

       /  May 27, 2018

      No need to get off the couch when Uncle Shane has 1 billion $ of loose change in his pocket.

    • PartisanZ

       /  May 27, 2018

      Shane’s “nephs” are merely the latest manifestation of NZFirsts “manufactured enemies” and internal hate-idols or threats …

      Used in the same way National uses “dole bludgers” and “solo mothers” …

      • Grimm

         /  May 27, 2018

        Your’re confused today, and making shit up.

        Whilst Shane Jones actually used the phrase “nephs” and nephews”, when did National use the phrases…

        “dole bludgers” and “solo mothers”

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  May 27, 2018

          Never, I should think. ‘Solo mothers’ is just possible, but not ‘dole bludgers’.

  5. NOEL

     /  May 27, 2018

    Did a road trip recently back through areas that 25 years ago was sustainable forestry under the former Ministry of Forestry. Was amazed at the acreage now in dairy and beef.

    • David

       /  May 27, 2018

      Maximum utilization of precious resources Noel, little point in growing a tree on land that could make 100 times as much money doing something else. Grow a tree where its the best use of the land if it was sustainable they would have re planted.
      Capitalism and getting a Ministry of something the hell out of the way and look at us now, richer, wealthier, healthier and happier than any other time in history.