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Maori forest owners keen to add value

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One of the leaders of a Bay of Plenty initiative to bring Maori land into the Billion Trees programme says it offers the prospect of Maori owners adding more value to the timber after harvest.

Pukahukiwi Kaokaoroa 2 Incorporation and Waipapa 2B2 Ahu Whenua Trust will plant more than 330 hectares in pines this season in a joint venture with Crown Forestry.

Te Taru White says the owners want to get out of dairy farming because of the environmental damage.

He says unlike previous forestry ventures in the region, they will own the trees rather than leasing their land to the big corporates who made the decision to directly export logs.

"They closed down the sawmills because they didn't believe there was any money in adding value. So our view from a Maori perspective in terms of involvement in forestry is that we want to see more added value, we want to leverage off scale so joining a more cohesive cooperative among ourselves, creating scale so we can own the trees, own the supply and determine the added value markets downstream," Mr White says.

While the best commercial returns and the highest rate of carbon capture comes from growing pines, the owners will also plant some native trees in appropriate places.

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