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Free database will open access to best tree information

Landowners looking for information about any aspect of planting and managing trees in the working landscape will soon be able to access a new online – and free – database. The database will comprise the most useful and credible information resources available.

A project being funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund, the NZ Farm Forestry Association and Scion Research, with support from Rural Women NZ and the NZ Institute of Forestry, aims to establish a database of the best information resources about trees on farms. This database will range from practical aspects of growing and harvesting trees on farms through to managerial information such as budgeting and forest ownership options.

A vital early part of the project will be input from landowners, via an online survey as to how they prefer to receive this type of information.

"Since the 1950s, there have been many initiatives aimed at encouraging landowners to plant more trees, and manage existing plantations and native bush for all sorts of reasons - timber, shade, shelter, fodder, control of soil erosion, conservation, carbon storage or amenity benefits," says project manager Harriet Palmer.

"At the same time there has been a large amount of research centred around small-scale forestry, resulting in a plethora of information resources and tech-transfer activity. Much of the experience and information generated over the years is very high calibre and still relevant. But the resources are scattered and sometimes hard to find," she says.

Landowners involved in or thinking about tree ventures, and organisations whose role includes advising farmers on integrated land management strategies, will benefit from the planned database. All listings in the database will be assessed by leading farm foresters, forestry consultants and researchers as reflecting current knowledge and best practice.

As well as unlocking existing resources and research to wider access, the project will help identify information gaps. It will also provide information on how landowners prefer to learn about planting and managing trees.

Farmers and other landowners are being asked to participate in an online survey to ascertain their specific information and training needs related to trees on farms, and also their preferred methods for receiving new information – formally and informally.

To participate in the survey go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Trees_on_Farms

All surveys completed before 31 December 2012 will go into the draw for $100 petrol vouchers, a copy of Native Trees of New Zealand and Their Story by John Wardle, or Rural Women NZ cookbooks 'A Good Spread' and 'A Good Harvest'.

For more information email Harriet Palmer at harriet.palmer@paradise.net.nz@pfolsen.com