The One Billion Trees Fund has just hit two significant milestones that will create more than 7500ha of new forest cover, according to Forestry Minister Shane Jones.
Speaking at a celebratory dinner at Parliament last month to mark 100 years of the New Zealand Forestry Service, Shane says the fund was helping put forestry back on the map.
The fund offers direct grants to landowners for planting and regeneration projects, as well as partnership funding to co-fund projects that aim to reduce the barriers to tree planting.
“We launched the fund late last year and I’m pleased with the progress we’re making,” says Shane.
“We’ve now approved more than 170 funding grants worth more than $15 million.
“I’m particularly delighted that eight of these approvals are for Maori freehold land, where the $1.7 million allocated will see planting cover almost 1000ha.
“We know that growing the right trees, in the right place, for the right purpose will help build resilient ecosystems and help us deliver our climate change objectives.”
The grants approved to date reflect an exciting range of initiatives, the length and breadth of the country, says Shane.
“For example, on Stewart Island we’re supporting the planting of some 20ha of seaward facing former hill country farmland to regenerate as native forest, providing penguin habitat.
“In Taranaki we’ve signed a contract with NZ Green School, a new school set to open early next year and committed to educating for sustainability. They expect to plant up to 40ha, of which about 75 per cent will be native species.
“And a key component of the grants is to provide funding for farmers to integrate trees onto their land to improve productivity; for example, retiring unproductive land through trees and to help diversify their income,” says Shane.
The grant scheme is in addition to the Crown Forestry joint ventures, which are also contributing to the One Billion Trees goal.
“There are currently 33 forestry joint ventures covering 19,446ha with 17.5 million trees to be planted. “Almost 13 million seedlings have been planted since the scheme started in 2018,” says Shane.