Budget Hope for Restoring Native Forests?

Budget Hope for Restoring Native Forests?

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Will Revived Forest Grant Scheme be Good for Natives?

The revival of the Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) announced this week by the associate Primary Industries Minister, Jo Goodhew is unlikely to lead to more planting of native forest, according to Forest Owners Association technical manager, Glen Mackie.

While Mackie acknowledged that the Government’s decision, “..is an endorsement of the environmental attributes of forestry and will doubtless make a useful contribution to erosion prevention and the country’s carbon ledger,” this is only the case if the forests are commercial plantation plantings, most likely radiata.

According to Mackie the revived scheme, “…is squarely aimed at pastoral farmers on steep erosion-prone land where the economics of production forestry might be marginal.”

The new version of the scheme will see $22.5 million invested over the next six years to encourage the planting of an expected 15,000 hectares of new forest.

“The new scheme will take up where its highly successful predecessor left off,” Mrs Goodhew says. “Farmers and landowners can again use the AGS to make better use of marginal land and increase farming diversification.”

Successful applicants will receive $1,300 per hectare for new forest planting, with priority given to applications addressing environmental issues such as erosion. However there is no indication in the Government’s release documents of priorities for industrial planting. Those planning rehabilitation of native forest areas should be equally eligible for the grants as other landowners.

Full details of the scheme will be available prior to the due date for applications on 27 May 2015.