MAF grants $0.93M for new forests; calls for further applications

25 September 2008

The Afforestation Grant Scheme's (AGS) first public tender round has granted nine recipients a total $927,000 to plant new forests; and further applications are being called for, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) announced today.

The $927,000 grant from the first public tender pool will be spread over the next two years. It will be allocated to nine projects in the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago regions.

The nine projects will create 447 hectares of new forest in 2008 and 2009 at an average price of $1829 per hectare. It is expected 124 hectares will be planted this year.

"This grant allocation is an important first step for the Afforestation Grant Scheme which is a new programme under government's wider climate change initiatives," says MAF's Programmes Director, Clive Lilley.

"The AGS offers positive benefits at all levels. Nationally, it works towards meeting New Zealand's Kyoto Protocol obligations; regionally, it achieves sustainable land management objectives; and individually, it provides grant recipients economic opportunities through forest ownership and potential revenue from timber."

The AGS encourages planting of Kyoto compliant forest to increase greenhouse gas absorption from the atmosphere and also generate other environmental benefits such as reducing erosion, nutrient leaching and flood peak levels.

Grant recipients will own the new forests and can earn income from the timber, while the Government will retain the carbon credits generated under the Kyoto Protocol and take responsibility for meeting all Kyoto harvesting and deforestation liabilities.

MAF hopes to further increase new plantings in 2009 and a second public tender pool round is currently open for applications. The tender round closes on 31 October.

Under the AGS, half of the funding is available to the general public via the public tender pool and the other half is allocated to regional councils under a separate pool round.

A contract is currently being signed with Regional Councils for their pool and announcements are expected to be made soon.

The AGS is an alternative to other sustainable forestry legislation and policies such as the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS) Forestry, the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI), the East Coast Forestry Project and the Sustainable Land Management (Hill Country Erosion) Programme.

For further information on the AGS or to download an AGS Public Tender Form, see: http://www.maf.govt.nz/climatechange/forestry/initiatives/ags/

ENDS

Media contact:

Prasheeta Ram-Taki | MAF Communications | Phone: 64-4- 894 5535 | Mobile: 029-894 5535 | Email: prasheeta.ram-taki@maf.govt.nz

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