Afforestation Grant Scheme

The Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) is a funding programme designed to help establish 15,000 hectares of new forest in New Zealand between 2015 and 2020. Find out more about the fund, key dates and how to apply.

Goal

To have 15,000 hectares of new forest planted by 2020, to help:

  • reduce soil erosion – forest cover is the best form of erosion control. MPI estimates that 1.1 million hectares of land is at serious risk of erosion
  • improve land-use productivity and boost regional economic development
  • store carbon and improve water quality.

To help get there, MPI is providing grants of $1,300 per hectare for growers to plant new small to medium-sized forests (5 hectares to 300 hectares). Up to $19.5 million is available until 2020.

Who can apply

  • Any person or organisation that owns land in New Zealand or has a right to use New Zealand land for forestry.
  • Any person or organisation that is about to acquire land in New Zealand or a right to use New Zealand land for forestry.

You must be able to commit between 5 hectares and 300 hectares of land to planting in new forest. You can apply to each funding round, as long as you're applying for new planting.

2018 funding round

The 2018 funding round is closed and applicants will be notified of outcomes later in the year.

If you would like more information on forestry funding schemes, email funding@mpi.govt.nz.

It would be useful if you can include in your email details of your proposed planting project.

Who to ask for help

New Zealand's regional councils and forestry consultants are familiar with the scheme and are experienced with helping applicants through the process. You may find it helpful to talk with them, particularly if you are considering making an application in the future.

You can also ask us for help:

Assessment

Once MPI receives your application, we will check that it is complete and meets the criteria. We will then undertake a detailed assessment of the eligibility and suitability of the land, and review the other information you have provided.

Even if your application meets all the criteria, your application may not be approved. For example, if MPI receives more applications than we can fund, priority will be given to those that will make a greater contribution to reducing soil erosion.

Contracting, planting and monitoring

Successful applicants will be offered a Grant Agreement, which is a contract between MPI and the applicant. It formalises the terms and conditions of the grant, and includes a map of the approved area. This may be different to the area that was applied for, if the application included land that was ineligible or unsuitable.

Planting must happen in the winter following the funding round – so if you apply in 2018, and your application is successful, you'll be planting in winter 2019.

Claiming your grant

Once your forest is established, you can claim your grant. We'll visit your forest to make sure it's established to the required standard. The plantings must be visually verifiable. If the forest meets the establishment standard, we will pay you the grant for the area established.

If you sell or transfer your forest to someone else within 10 years, you must tell MPI and we will help you transfer your grant agreement to the new owner.

MPI will monitor your forest to make sure it's up to standard. After 10 years, you're free to do as you choose with your forest.

A claim form must be completed and sent to MPI, together with a shapefile or map showing the actual planted area.  You will also need to complete a Creditor Form and provide a bank deposit slip to MPI with your claim.

Eligible land

The land included in the grant can be across more than one title, as long as you own it or have the right to use it. Your application can include more than one block of land but each block must be bigger than 1 hectare.

The land must be new forest planting. It must not:

  • be classed as 'forest land' under the Climate Change Response Act 2002 when you apply
  • have been 'forest land' on 31 December 1989
  • have been 'forest land' at any time in the 5 years before you apply.

Climate Change Response Act 2002 – NZ Legislation website

The type of forest you can grow

You must plant the forest to qualify for a grant – you can't seed it or let it regenerate naturally. You can use the Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) for environmental or commercial reasons, or both. You have to maintain the forest to a set standard to be eligible for the grant. If you cut down the forest or don't look after it, you may have to replant or, as a last resort, pay the grant back.

You can plant native or exotic trees. The trees can also be a mix of forest species. A forest species is one able to grow to at least 5 metres in the place you've planted it. It isn't a species used primarily for fruit or nut crops.

If your forest is funded by an AGS grant, you still own the trees and the timber. However, the Crown recognises the carbon from the new forests in its international carbon accounting for the duration of the 10-year AGS Grant Agreement. Landowners under the AGS may apply to join the ETS after the AGS Grant Agreement ends.

Can I receive carbon credits under the Emissions Trading Scheme?

The Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) provides grants to help growers to plant new forests.

Forest land established through the AGS cannot be entered into any other government forestry scheme for 10 years following establishment, including the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). However, after 10 years, AGS recipients can apply to register their forest land in the ETS. If the land meets all ETS requirements, they can then earn carbon credits back to the start of the 5-year emissions return period in which they register. Note, participants are only liable for the carbon credits they receive.

The ETS encourages people to plant new forests by issuing them with carbon credits for the carbon stored in the new forests they establish. Under international greenhouse gas accounting, New Zealand receives recognition for the carbon stored in new forests. With AGS forests, any international benefit that the government receives from the first 10 years of growth is used to help offset New Zealand’s emissions. This help us to meet our international climate change obligations.

Building on previous success

From 2008 to 2013, just under 12,000 hectares of new forest was planted under a previous AGS scheme. Much of the planting was on erosion-prone land. The plantings improved water quality and reduced the impact of severe flooding.

Who to contact

If you have questions about the scheme, email funding@mpi.govt.nz

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