Afforestation Grant Scheme

In late April the second round of the Afforestation Grant Scheme (“AGS”) opened for applications. The purpose of the AGS is to promote the planting of new forests. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) consider that afforestation will improve land-use productivity and deliver a number of environmental benefits such as reducing soil erosion and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. MPI plan to establish 15,000 hectares of new forest by 2020.

This update provides an overview of the application process, landowner obligations under the AGS and the potential resource management issues that applicants need to be aware of.

What are the key details?

The AGS provides a monetary grant to support landowners in the cost of establish new forests. If successful, applicants will receive a fixed rate of $1,300 per hectare of new forest planted. MPI expect that successful applicants will plant the new forests by the winter 2017. Successful applicants are required to stay in the scheme for a minimum of 10 years. During that period the Crown will retain any carbon credits earned for that 10 year period.

How can you apply?

To be eligible for a grant you must either own the land or have the legal right to use the land for forestry. Applications are open to individuals, businesses, trusts, state owned enterprises and local government. Applications must also include;

  • A site map and photos of the area,
  • A current farm plan (if applicable),
  • Support from the relevant Council, and
  • A wilding spread risk assessment.

What are the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible for a grant the applicant must have an area of ‘eligible land’ between 5 and 300 hectares. Applications will be prioritised by risk of erosion. MPI have outlined a list of ineligible land including land that was forest on 31 December 1989 and land that is already part of other government assisted afforestation or related schemes. The full list of ineligible land is included on the MPI website.

What are your obligations under the grant?

Successful applicants must remain in the AGS for a minimum of 10 years. During this time any carbon credits obtained from their forest will be retained by the Government. Successful applicants have an obligation to ensure that trees are planted within a certain timeframe, and that the minimum number of trees per hectare is planted and maintained.

What RMA obligations should applicants be aware of?

It is important to understand any potential resource management obligations under district and regional plans prior to applying for the AGS. Afforestation often involves a large amount of earthworks that may trigger resource consent requirements. Rules relating to riparian margins, water-short catchments and the alteration of outstanding landscapes may also need to be considered.

Where can I find more information?

Applications for this round of funding close at 5pm on the 8th June.

More information on the AGS, including application forms and the full eligibility criteria can be found here.

Disclaimer: This is a brief summary for information purposes only and is not legal advice. 

Posted on Thursday 2nd June, 2016 at 09:14 am