13 May 2015

Reboot of afforestation scheme welcomed

6:36 am on 13 May 2015

The Forest Owners Association has welcomed the relaunch of a government forestry scheme, saying it will slow the rate of deforestation in New Zealand.

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Photo: 123RF

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew relaunched the Afforestation Grant Scheme at a farm near Masterton this week.

Over the next six years, the government will spend $22.5 million subsidising the planting of forests on erosion-prone land, with successful applicants receiving $1300 per hectare.

Forest Owners Association technical manager Glen Mackie said the scheme was aimed at pastoral farmers on steep land, where the economics of production forestry might be marginal.

"It's a positive initiative to actually get land that is actually better suited to forestry - get it out of other uses, where it may actually have issues with erosion or other environmental problems or so forth, and get it into a higher productive use."

But Mr Mackie said the government could ensure far more forests were planted if it fixed what the association described as the "dysfunctional" Emissions Trading Scheme.

"The problems with the Emissions Trading Scheme are definitely holding back potential new plantings and we would like to see those issues addressed," he said.

"Under the scheme, up to 2500 hectares of new forest will be planted a year.

"If this is offset against current annual deforestation - based on industry estimates of around 10,000 hectares a year - the annual decline in planted forest area will fall to 7500 hectares a year."