Waimate District Council branches out to offset carbon footprint
Invasive and unwanted tree species in the Lake Aviemore area are starting to make way for sterile exotic and native replacements, as Meridian Energy expand their Forever Forests programme to the Waimate District.
In a partnership with the Waimate District Council, the initiative is intended to allow both parties to offset carbon emissions and bring long-term environmental and biodiversity benefits to the district at no cost to ratepayers.
Launched late last year, the Forever Forests programme sets out to plant more than 1.5 million seedlings around the country, with Meridian first focusing on their own land across hydro stations, wind farms and other vacant space, before looking further afield.
The programme now sees the country’s largest renewable energy provider reaching out to councils and other large land owners across the nation, seeking suitable land to continue expanding the project.
In recent weeks, wilding pines and poplar trees have been removed from the Fisherman’s Bend Campground at Lake Aviemore, prompting minor concern among some campers.
Waimate District Mayor Craig Rowley acknowledged any initial concern, but provided assurance the change in landscape would benefit the area in the long term.
“We understand that in these early stages it looks like there is a scar on the land, but when it comes to achieving change and environmental good, sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture . . . and this is what it takes,” he said.
“Towards the end of this month, the affected space will be replanted with a mix of totara and sterile radiata attenuata, which will not only be better for the environment, but in the long term, leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”
As part of the project, some cycle tracks will also be installed in the area – though the timing is yet to be confirmed.
Rowley added no other Council-owned camping areas would be subject to similar large scale projects.
Commenting on the initiative, Meridian Renewable Development Programme Manager Mark Harris says there has to be an understanding with any landowners that these trees are forever trees.
“Short-term plantings are not going to do the job,” Harris said.
“It has to be a commitment that they're going to be there for the long term to allow benefit for future generations, and although the project brings obvious environmental benefits, it is also expected to bring economic opportunities to communities across the country, with jobs opening up as the need to plant and maintain the trees growth.”
Planting in the Lake Aviemore area is scheduled for 25 and 26 August 2020.
For more information about the Forever Forests programme, visit; https://www.meridianenergy.co.nz/who-we-are/community-support/forever-forests