The One Billion Trees Programme is a partnership with farmers to help them extract value from their land while contributing to the economy and ecology of New Zealand. There are two elements of the scheme: individual grants to plant trees, and partnership grants to people or entities who are focused on enabling trees to be planted through research, innovation, or sector development.
The 1 Billion Trees Scheme (1BT) has replaced the Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS), and as of January 2019 the AGS is not giving out grants and is transferring existing grantees to the 1BT scheme.
The ideal candidate for the 1BT grant is a person or entity looking to plant trees to reduce erosion, improve water quality, develop Māori-owned land or to diversify productive land uses. The scheme is aiming to provide incentives for landowners to plant indigenous trees, however non-indigenous trees such as pines can be planted. The grants are able to be applied at any point in the next three years. Applications can be made online via the Forestry New Zealand website.
Individual grants provide direct grants to landowners (or individuals/entities with a right to plant) for planting and establishing trees and/or fostering indigenous regeneration of trees.
The grants are given to landowners who can commit to establishing and maintaining trees and/or native regeneration for at least 10 years. The landowner must maintain the land in line with their management plan; depending on the site this may allow for light and periodic grazing to keep rank grass from choking regenerating plants.
The value of the grant differs depending on the type of tree. For indigenous planting the base rate is $4,000 a hectare, for Manuka/Kanuka it is $1,800 per hectare and for exotic it is $1,500 a hectare.
For all tree species other than radiata pine, the landowner can receive a grant and also enter into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) immediately (if the trees and type of planting meet the ETS criteria). Being able to enter the ETS straightaway is an advantage that the AGS didn’t offer. The other benefit of tree planting to farmers is to be able to make their farm carbon neutral, which is good for marketing as consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of products.
The grant is paid out in milestones, with up to 30% paid to recipients before they undertake the tree planting or reversion activity. Up to 50% will then be paid when trees are successfully established, with up to 20% paid when trees have been successfully maintained.
Grants are typically only available for up to 300 hectares in one year, but Forestry New Zealand will review larger applications on a case-by-case basis.
Partnership grants create a working relationship with regional councils, sector organisations, non-government organisations, researchers, training organisations, Māori landowners, and community groups.
The following are priority areas ideal for partnership grants:
- Labour or workforce development.
- Advice or support for landowners through information, technical advice or extension services.
- Large scale tree planting and restoration.
- Improvement of knowledge, expertise or technology to support growing, planting and maintaining trees.
- Seedling production.