Eligibility criteria for Direct Grants from the One Billion Trees Fund

Before you start your application for a landowner grant, check your project against the eligibility criteria.

Criteria for Direct Grants

To be eligible for a Direct Grant, certain criteria must be met for:

  • the land
  • your proposed project
  • seed source for natural reversion.

The criteria are designed to make sure planting through Direct Grants meets the objective of the right tree, planted in the right place, for the right purpose.

Land criteria 1: You must have the right to plant on the land

You must be the owner of the land, or have the right to plant on the land through a forestry right or lease. You need to give Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service (Forestry New Zealand) evidence of this by providing a Certificate of Title which is no more than 3 months old. You can get this from the Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) website.

You'll need to be able to commit to maintaining the area for at least 10 years.

Land criteria 2: Forest status

The land must not be ‘forest land’ at the time of application, and must not have been forest land in the 5 years prior to applying. In exceptional circumstances, we’ll consider funding native planting and native reversion projects on land that does not meet these criteria. Before applying, discuss your project with us if your land has been in forest recently. Email 1bt@mpi.govt.nz

'Forest land' has a specific definition:

  • At least 1 hectare of tree species capable of reaching 5 metres in height in that location, and
  • The collective crown cover of those tree species at maturity would likely cover 30% or more of that hectare and have a width of 30 metres or more on average.

It can be hard to identify if your land already meets this definition because it includes land that might not be obviously in tree cover. For example, land just starting to revert to native forest.

If you are unsure whether your land meets the forest land definition:

Land criteria 3: It must not already be in another related government scheme

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service can’t fund an area of land that’s already been funded by the Crown for the same activity, or an activity that counteracts the One Billion Trees Programme funded activities. Other Crown funded activity includes those in a government scheme like the:

  • Afforestation Grant Scheme
  • Erosion Control Funding Programme
  • Hill Country Erosion Programme, administered by regional councils
  • Emissions Trading Scheme, including land intended for pre-1990 offsetting
  • Permanent Forest Sink Initiative.

Project criteria 1: Minimum size requirements

The minimum planted area is:

  • 1 hectare for the native planting grant category
  • 5 hectares for all other categories (this can be made up of 1-hectare blocks of the same or multiple categories).

The maximum planted area is 300 hectares in 1 year, although funding applications to establish more than 300 hectares in 1 year will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Your project area should be wide enough so that the collective canopy cover of the trees will be 30 metres or more (on average) when they’re mature. An exception to this is riparian planting projects which should have planted areas at least 10 metres wide, allowing for natural variation. You'll need a management plan prepared or endorsed by your regional council or a relevant professional.

Project criteria 2: Choose the right species 

Your project must include tree species which are capable of reaching 5 metres in height in that location. They don’t need to reach this height over the grant period, provided they’re being managed in a way that will enable the planting to reach 5 metres at maturity.

If you’re doing a native planting project, smaller trees, shrubs, and other plants are an accepted part of the planting mix and will be funded alongside taller tree species. Mānuka is acceptable as a nurse species for these projects, but shouldn’t make up the majority of the tree species in your project.

If you’re planting mānuka, Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service will need to be satisfied that it’s capable of reaching 5 metres on your property. Note, intensive management of mānuka for honey or oil will normally prevent the species from reaching 5 metres.

Some trees aren’t eligible for funding. This includes trees grown or managed primarily for the production of fruit or nut crops, and tree species that have been identified in your regional council's regional pest management strategy or in the unwanted organisms register. Pest species can differ between regions – contact your council for information specific to your region.

Project criteria 3: Appropriate planting density

How many seedlings you plant per hectare (planting density) will depend on your activity and the characteristics of your land.

Planting projects should be in line with general good practice for your activity. As an indication your planting density should be approximately:

  • 1,000 to 2,500 stems per hectare for most exotic and native plantation forests
  • 2,500 to 10,000 stems per hectare for native planting projects (including smaller trees, shrubs, and other plants)
  • 1,000 to 3,000 stems per hectare for mānuka or kānuka plantations.

You can find good practice planting guidance through your regional council, industry body, the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association, Tane’s Tree Trust, and Trees That Count.

Lower stocking rates for particular species (redwoods, for example) may be agreed with Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service on a case-by-case basis. If you propose to plant significantly less than general good practice, you’ll need to provide evidence that your project is likely to succeed.

Note, all activities must be capable of meeting the establishment standard of a minimum of 750 stems per hectare successfully growing after planting. Mortality during and after planting is likely to occur and should be provided for in your initial planting stocking rate. If we’re not confident you’ll be able to reach the establishment standard, we’re unlikely to approve your application.

Project criteria 4: Applicant and project context

A key focus of the fund is to support planting that would not otherwise occur. When assessing applications we will consider whether the planting is likely to go ahead without government funding. This assessment will be based on both the applicant and the project context.

It is unlikely you will receive funding if your core business involves tree planting (for example, if you are a commercial forester, or if any party to the application has commercial forestry interests).

If you are unsure about your eligibility for funding, please get in touch to discuss your project.

Criteria for seed source for native reversion

For land to be eligible for natural reversion, there needs to be an adequate seed source nearby. A rule of thumb is that unstocked areas should be less than 100 metres from a parent seed source for reversion to be successful. This allows seeds to be picked up and dropped onto your land by the wind, animals, or birds.

Light grazing is acceptable to control weeds, as long as it doesn’t impact on the success of the project.

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service will assess whether the area has the potential to revert, given the management changes set out in a management plan and available local seed sources. Supplementary planting may be strongly recommended, based on an assessment of the availability of a natural seed source.

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