Forestry Minister Shane Jones and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today launched the One Billion Trees Fund – a crucial step towards achieving the goal of planting at least one billion trees by 2028. The news has been welcomed by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ Ltd).
Led by Te Uru Rākau – Forestry New Zealand – the Fund provides $118 million for simple and accessible grants to landowners and organisations looking to plant trees.
It also provides $120 million for partnership projects that aim to reduce the barriers to tree planting through innovation, research and sector development initiatives.
Damien O’Connor says: “This is another example of the Coalition Government’s partnership with farmers to help them extract more value from their businesses because we recognise the significant contribution they make to the well-being of New Zealand and our economy.
“The key to any sustainable business is diversification and I encourage those interested to take up these grants that reflect our ambition to work in partnership with farmers to get more from what they do.”
B+LNZ: the fund will complement work already being done on sheep and beef farms
Welcoming the announcement, B+LNZ says the Fund will complement the work already being done on sheep and beef farms. Its chief executive Sam McIvor says that the structure of the funding will work well for farmers by building on the efficiency gains they’ve made over the past 30 years, all while helping create and preserve 1.4 million hectares of native forest on sheep and beef farms.
“Done in the right way, by focusing on having the right trees in the right place for the right purpose, the One Billion Trees Fund represents a huge opportunity for sheep and beef farmers and complements many of the activities we’re focused on,” he says.
“Over the past three decades, the sheep and beef sector has made significant gains in productivity, for instance doubling the value of our exports while halving the number of our ewe flock and still exporting the same quantity of sheepmeat.
“At a time when consumers are looking more in depth at the story behind their food and want to know that it’s been ethically produced and those who produce it are doing so sustainably, it really is the time for our sheep and beef farmers to shine. Since 1990, sheep and beef farmers have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions from livestock by 30 per cent, there’s 1.4 million hectares of native forest on sheep and beef farms, we have a largely pasture-based, free-range farming system that’s the envy of the world and the One Billion Trees Fund gives us the opportunity to continue to enhance that image.”
With the new funding being targeted to support both smaller planting activities and larger projects, the One Billion Tree Fund will enable farmers to undertake a range of activities that will benefit farmers and New Zealanders.
“As part of our Environment Strategy, we’ve committed to being net carbon neutral by 2050, improving the quality of freshwater so New Zealanders can swim in and gather food in the water surrounding our farms, and for each of our farmers to have an tailored and active farm environment plan by the end of 2021, so the funding and approach announced today will play an important part in helping our farmers achieve these ambitious goals.” says McIvor.
He also notes that the funding works well with the diverse range of activities that already take place on sheep and beef farms.
“Our farms are a mosaic of farming activities, often with cropping, beef cattle, sheep, Manuka, horticulture, and forestry all taking place alongside significant tracks of regenerating native bush. Our vision is that within a farm, our farmers match land use with the land’s capability, and this is reflected by the diverse range of activities that take place on farm.”
To assist farmers in making the most of the One Billion Trees Fund, B+LNZ will be providing extension activities to help farmers identify suitable opportunities and understand how to apply for grant funding.
Ambitious target, but chance to revitalise regions
“The One Billion Trees Programme sets an ambitious target, but brings with it the huge opportunity to revitalise our regions and create real economic, social and environmental benefits across the country. It will also support Māori to realise the potential of their land,” Shane Jones says.
“The Government is committed to achieving these benefits for New Zealanders who have already shown an impressive amount of interest and goodwill in the programme. This year we exceeded the planting goal, with over 60 million trees planted.
“The new Fund will build on this early momentum by supporting planting to reduce erosion, improve water quality, achieve regional development goals, enhance biodiversity, develop Māori-owned land and diversify productive land use.
“Officials will monitor the rollout of the new grant scheme to ensure our focus remains on putting the right tree in the right place for the right purpose,” says Jones.
It brings the total for the One Billion Trees Programme, funded from the Provincial Growth Fund, to $480 million, with other initiatives including joint ventures between landowners and Crown Forestry to plant commercial forestry, and the community planting programme Matariki Tu Rākau.
Applications to the new Fund are now open through Forestry New Zealand/Te Uru Rākau and can be submitted all year round.