One billion tree programme under way
Collaborative efforts towards the ambitious one billion trees target are well under way with the first areas of land needed for Crown Forestry planting this winter committed, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.
“The tree planting programme will benefit New Zealand’s provinces, our environment and our people – it is a big boost for the forestry sector and will create more jobs and training opportunities to provinces that have been doing it tough for a while now,” Mr Jones says.
“Our climate change objectives will be advanced and our use of natural resources will be more sustainable and productive. We face a $36 billion potential liability by 2030 and planting trees is a sustainable and effective contribution towards our transition to a zero carbon economy.
“We have a strong base to build on, with the commercial forestry sector projected to plant half a billion trees in the next 10 years. We’re already seeing private landowners, government agencies, NGO’s, iwi, regional councils, nurseries and the private sector working hard to plant the other half a billion.
“Planting will be lower in the initial years due to natural seedling and land constraints, but will then ramp up quickly.
“Policies are being developed to avoid unintended environmental or economic outcomes, land is being secured, seedlings are being grown, private investment is being stimulated and infrastructure is being developed.
“All of this combined will see us go from 55 million trees this year, to 70 million a year in 2020, to 90 million in 2021. From there we will be aiming for 110 million a year over the next seven years of the programme.
“This year, almost 7.3 million trees will be planted through various Ministry for Primary Industries schemes – about half of which will be indigenous species.
“Planting will include both exotics and natives. We want to enable planting of a mix of permanent and harvestable forestry, using both exotic and native tree species on private, public and Maori-owned land. Species include radiata pine, red wood, totara, eucalyptus, Douglas fir and mānuka.
“This is certainly about commercial crops, but it is also about environmental, regional and other gains as well.
“We are finalising an agreement with Landcorp to plant 1 million trees this winter and another million trees next year – about 2,000 hectares in total – and a review of its portfolio to identify any other potential land for planting.
“Landcorp are progressive land managers and have long seen the commercial and environmental benefits of forestry, with 10,000 hectares planted already.
“We expect to be able to make more announcements about where trees will be planted this year in the coming months.
“Today, we’re also opening applications for the Afforestation Grants Scheme (AGS), which provides $1,300 of Government funding per hectare for new forests between five and 300 hectares.
“I encourage landowners thinking about forestry to apply for grants through the AGS and we want to exhaust the full $6.5 million of available funding.
“Forestry is a great choice. It will help landowners to diversify their income, invest in their family’s future and improve productivity – as well as help to play their part in economic development and meeting environmental goals, such as tackling erosion,” Mr Jones says.
Applications for the AGS must be received by MPI by 14 May 2018. For further information visit www.mpi.govt.nz/ags.