$5.9 million funding boost to plant trees nationwide
Funding of $5.9 million will be given to landowners nationwide to plant 4,574 hectares of trees under Te Uru Rākau’s (Forestry New Zealand's) Afforestation Grants Scheme (AGS).
Eighty-three applications were approved in the 2018 round, with 2,788 hectares being planted in the North Island and 1,785 hectares in the South Island.
This year's AGS grants will contribute about 4.5 million trees to the government's One Billion Trees programme. The AGS was launched in 2015 to encourage and support planting new forests.
Southland, Waikato and Manawatū-Whanganui regions are planting the largest hectares of trees, with 1,246 hectares in Southland, 1,220 hectares in Waikato, and 428 hectares in Manawatū-Whanganui. The tree type that will be planted in greatest numbers across all regions is mānuka.
Most tree planting will be done in 2019, with 8 funding recipients looking to plant this year.
"The AGS has helped landowners achieve positive economic outcomes by helping them plant trees on erosion-prone land and regenerating indigenous forests while reducing some of the high costs associated with marginal land," says Steve Penno, director of investment programmes.
"New forests established by the AGS since 2015 have also delivered environmental benefits such as reducing soil erosion, improving water quality, and absorbing around 1.9 million tonnes of carbon every year."
With the 2018 funding round complete, the AGS will be replaced by a new grants scheme which will be launched later this year under the One Billion Trees programme.
"The new forestry grant scheme will be simplified and accessible and will continue to help landowners meet the cost of planting and establishing trees," says Mr Penno. "The goal will always be to ensure we have the right tree in the right place, for the right purpose," he said.
The new forestry grant scheme will be funded through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) with $118 million set aside over the next 3 years.
A further $120 million has been set aside for partnership projects which will work to create closer relationships with regional councils, non-government organisations, researchers, training organisations, Māori landowners, and community groups.