One Billion Trees - Room for nut trees?
The One Billion Trees Programme (OBTP, The Programme) was developed in 2018 and is administered through the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
The stated intentions of The Programme are to:
- Improve land productivity
- Tackle environmental issues like erosion
- Reduce the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide
- Improve water quality
- Provide important habitats for a range of native species
- Enhance natural landscapes
- Provide another source of income from timber, honey and carbon credits
- Support wellbeing and create jobs and careers for our people.
The Programme will achieve these intentions by supporting farmers and other landowners to plant trees.
Curiously, The Programme explicitly excludes nut trees, with no official explanation. I set out to see if I could fit nut trees within the stated intentions of The Programme as well as enumerate (and quantify) the economic and wellbeing benefits of nut trees. I published my findings in a report available here.
What I found is that nut trees are consistent with the stated intentions of The Programme in that the ecosystem services and products they produce are similar to those of tree species that are included in The Programme such as native species, pinus radiata, and douglas fir.
I collate the available data on the nutrient profiles of different tree nuts that will grow in New Zealand. This includes data on the amino acid profile of tree nuts.
Tree nut consumption has health benefits, I briefly summarise some of the research into diabetes mellitus and dietary magnesium. Magnesium is an element that is found in abundance in some species of tree nut.
I also quantify some of the economic benefits of including nut trees into the OBTP. I found that, under conservative assumptions, we might expect an additional 1.18 – 2.42 million GDP per annum and 14 – 30 additional full time equivalent jobs.
Overall, I recommend nut trees be included in the OBTP.