Northland farmers and landowners keen to plant as little as five – or as much as 300 – hectares of new forestry are being encouraged to take full advantage of a Government forestry grant scheme. Sources: Timberbiz, Scoop NZ
The Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and pays eligible applicants a subsidy of up to NZ$1300 per hectare to plant forests, provided owners agree to maintain the forest for a decade.
In return, the Crown – which has earmarked about NZ$19.5M for the establishment of 15,000ha of new forests over five years to 2020 – gets carbon credits for the land involved.
Joe Carr, chairman of the Northland Regional Council’s Environmental Management Committee, says new forests can offer a host of environmental benefits, including reducing soil erosion, storing carbon, and improving water quality.
The government reintroduced the AGS last year to improve land-use productivity and regional economic development after new forestry declined from 55,000ha annually in the 1990s to just 3000ha in 2014.
Councillor Carr says applications for this year’s funding can be made until Wednesday 8 June and anyone, or any organisation, that owns land or has a right to use land for forestry can apply.
“Grants will be allocated at the rate of NZ$1300 per hectare, with planting to begin in winter next year.”
Councillor Carr, an Okaihau-based beef farmer and forest owner, says the scheme is a great incentive for those planning to plant their land, especially if it’s erosion-prone, and he encourages as many people as possible to take advantage of it.
He says the regional council can help people with applications to the AGS in two ways.
“Our land management advisers can help with the application process overall, including free mapping of proposed land use change, but we can also help prepare individual farm water quality improvement plans, again at no cost, to complement and support their applications.”
Councillor Carr says even if farmers and landowners can’t find the time to apply for the AGS before the 8 June cut off, they can still use it as an opportunity to plan projects for next year.
“People can apply to each annual funding round, as long as they’re applying for new planting on separate land blocks. If you do apply multiple times, the AGS allows for a maximum funding of up to 300 hectares over the life of the scheme.”
Councillor Carr says successful applicants will be notified by email in September, with planting expected to begin in winter 2017.