1BT projects help grow Tairāwhiti

One Billion Trees funding of more than $1.5 million for six innovative projects will bring employment and kick-start the Tairāwhiti economy following the COVID-19 lockdown, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

One Billion Trees grants of more than $89,300 have been provided to Abushman Contracts Ltd, a Māori-owned forestry silviculture business which has developed the Paiaka Forestry Introductory Programme. Through this, 10 forestry workers whose jobs have been affected by COVID-19 will have the chance to gain NZQA credits and access wrap-around whānau-led wellbeing support.

“In addition, the workers will have job security pruning trees over the next three to six months on plantations administered by Crown Forestry and Ngāti Porou Forests Ltd after both agreed to bring pruning work forward,” Shane Jones says.

In another project, up to 20 Tairāwhiti forestry workers will have the chance to gain NZQA credits through Eastland Wood Council’s Training the Next Forestry Generation project, which is receiving One Billion Trees funding of up to $56,488.

“Education opportunities like this not only keep people in the forestry sector, they also ensure the workforce is upskilled and well-placed to help put New Zealand forestry and wood processing at the cutting-edge as we move beyond COVID-19.

“Eastland Wood Council has long advocated to keep workers, particularly young people, engaged in forestry,” says Shane Jones.

One Billion Trees grants for several Tairāwhiti erosion control programmes have also been approved.

“This is great news for the region. I’m very pleased a significant investment of $1.08m has been approved for the Motu River Catchment Group to develop and implement the next phase of its major erosion control project.

“Thanks to community funding through the One Billion Trees fund via the Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP), the group’s 18 landowners will be able to plant 78,000 native plants in the upper Motu catchment, helping prevent sedimentation and improving water quality in Tairāwhiti. This funding means seven Tairāwhiti locals will be employed, and will also enable the group build 22.5km of fencing to protect the area from animals.

“Up to five locals will be employed through two additional ECFP projects that will each receive $40,000. The projects aim to prevent erosion by planting native trees, and are focused on harvesting native seeds from wild sources and processing the seeds, as well as documenting and inspecting ECFP locations.”

Shane Jones says the Tairāwhiti projects underscore the Government’s commitment to forestry and the region.

“This funding follows a $28m support package announced before the Level 4 lockdown which has helped Tairāwhiti industries including forestry weather the storm.

“This Government is continuing to invest in Tairāwhiti forestry post-COVID-19 so the community can benefit from the employment, environmental and economic benefits this vital sector brings.”