Bay of Plenty foresters, farmers and landowners have secured $448,500 in funding under the afforestation grant scheme.

Primary Industries Associate Minister Jo Goodhew announced the first round of funding to generate 5819ha of new plantations.

The total area funded in the Bay of Plenty under this round is 345ha.

The $22.5 million project would help establish 15,000ha of new plantations over the next six years.


"Under the first round of funding the total area applied for covered 9044ha, far exceeding our expectations," Mrs Goodhew said. "The successful applications cover 5819ha of forest, and farmers and landowners will receive support worth $7,565,347 through this scheme."

Every application was assessed against a set of eligibility criteria and included a detailed technical forestry assessment.

"As a result of the new planting, which will begin during winter 2016, our regions will see increased erosion control, water quality and less environmental impact following flooding."

Earlier this year Mrs Goodhew said that leading into the 2020s there was the potential for a 40 per cent increase in log production.

"Currently we are missing the opportunity to supply high-value wood products to the world because more than 50 per cent of our logs leave our shores unprocessed.

"We need to support the innovation of the engineered timber sector, and we need to invest in skills training to support the growth of this sector."

Making forestry an attractive option for young people was a key focus, Mrs Goodhew said. "Over the next decade, and as we near harvest, the forestry industry will be using more technology and producing more innovative building solutions that require strong business and engineering expertise. "Not only do we need to encourage forest planting, we also need New Zealanders to realise the opportunities in forestry as an exciting career path for their children and grandchildren," she said.

Continued maintenance, involving pruning, thinning and harvesting the 15,000ha, would support regional economies, and support employment in the forestry sector, Mrs Goodhew said.

The next funding round would open in April next year for planting in winter 2017.