By Paul McBeth
Nov. 30 (BusinessDesk) - The government is offering $238 million in grants to encourage new tree planting, especially of natives, as it tries to get one billion new trees in the ground by 2028.
Cabinet ministers Shane Jones and Damien O'Connor today announced the opening of two grants, funded through the Provincial Growth Fund and allocated by the Ministry for Primary Industries' forest unit.
The first scheme will offer direct grants to landowners to help cover the cost of planting and establishing trees and indigenous regeneration, with $118 million available over three years. Indigenous trees will get preferential treatment, with the scheme supporting the planting of 60 million trees in that time, of which two-thirds are hoped to be native.
A second scheme will offer $120 million to co-fund projects that reduce barriers to planting. The idea is that the applicants for commercial projects will fund at least half, but applications with strong social and environmental benefits may be able to negotiate better terms. The scheme expects to support workforce development, improving information for landowners, environmental restoration, science and research, and seedling and nursery production.
"Officials will monitor the roll-out of the new grant scheme to ensure our focus remains on putting the right tree in the right place for the right purpose," Jones said in a statement.
The new grants account for more than half the $480 million available to support the one billion trees programme, which is a key element of the government's efforts to tilt the economy towards action on climate change, land erosion, water quality and regional unemployment.
Separately, state-owned commercial farmer Landcorp Farming, which trades as Pāmu, this week put out a tender document seeking an afforestation partner.
The document said the SOE's current expansion and diversification plans are using a significant amount of its time and capital. It's interested in finding a partner to help fund and manage part of its future afforestation programme. The farmer wants to capture the afforestation potential for land well-suited to forestry, including carbon farming and traditional rotation forestry.
"Pāmu anticipates the arrangement to involve it contributing land suitable for afforestation and the partner group funding the forest establishment and ongoing management of the forests," the document said.