Program puts trees in rotation

A NEW land-leasing program for Tasmanian farmers has been launched to utilise typically unproductive land on properties for timber plantations.

The ActivAcre program is being managed by Tasmanian plantation company SFM which will plant new trees on under-utilised farming land to make available a reliable income for farmers while enabling them to share in the benefits of timber and carbon markets. As well as using previously untillable or underused land the program promotes the installation of greater shelter belts on farms and the associated benefits on soil, water and erosion.

SFM managing director Andrew Morgan said ActivAcre had been co-created with a group of farmers to enable trees to be integrated within the agriculture landscape in a manner that works for them. “In developing the program with farmers, we identified there was between 10-20 per cent of unproductive farmland in Tasmania,” Mr Morgan said.

“We need to consider ways to maximise the productivity of all land without negative environmental or social impacts. “This requires a level of flexibility that enables landowners to have trees in their landscape that won’t impact other farming pursuits, in fact, it’ll enhance them. “With climate change and the growing future demand for timber in Australia, we need programs like this which are flexible in nature and strive to partner with landowners and the community – the right tree in the right place for the right reasons.”

The program is hoping to plant 15,000 hectares of hardwood and softwood trees in Tasmania’s north over five years. Landowners can choose between two 20-year rotations or one 30-year rotation on plots no smaller than 15 hectares.

Blackwood Creek farmer Tim Wallace is one of the farmers looking to take up the program. “We’re looking to link up existing shelter on corners outside our irrigation circles,” Mr Wallace said. “Obviously there’s a trade-off but typically it’s the more shelter for our livestock the better” “If we can put trees in it can bring an income stream from ground that usually isn’t productive for cropping.”

The program is operated alongside global investment manager New Forests. Farmers can express interest at