1 Sep 2014

National promise to fund tree planting

10:45 am on 1 September 2014

National's promise of more funding to encourage tree planting will not be enough to halt the decline in forestry planting, forest owners say.

An aerial view of Kaingaroa Forest and surrounding farmland.

An aerial view of Kaingaroa Forest and surrounding farmland. Photo: PHOTO NZ

National is promising $22.5 million to resurrect the Afforestation Grant Scheme for another five years.

It would provide grants of $1300 a hectare to establish new forests of between five and 300 hectares, but would not be available for replanting logged forests.

In return for a grant foresters would forfeit carbon credits to the Crown for up to a decade.

Forest Owners Association president Paul Nicholls said bringing back the afforestation scheme was commendable, but it did not address the real obstacle to increased planting, and that was a dysfunctional Emissions Trading Scheme.

"We think a better incentive package and a longer term, more sustainable incentive package would be to use the Emissions Trading Scheme as the way to promote afforestation, where it makes economic sense to do so," he said.

"We think that changes unfortunately the Government made to the scheme, both in the Budget, and prior to the Budget, have actually been a disincentive to afforestation, so, whilst this is a good way to get it back on track, we think there is still more that could be done quite easily."

The Afforestation Scheme would be most useful for farmers and regional councils fighting soil erosion in steep hill country, Mr Nicholls said.