Hawke's Bay could be in a prime location to take advantage of government moves to use manuka to boost the region's economy.
Mānuka Farming New Zealand chief executive Stephen Lee yesterday welcomed the Government's One Billion Trees Fund announcement giving landowners in Hawke's Bay funding support across both of its newly established funds – the Direct Landowner Grants and the Partnership Grant.
Lee said with some exciting trial results from scientifically bred seedling imminent, the funding announcement would create strong land owner interest.
"We are on the verge of releasing some very exciting plantation trial site results for high grade mānuka and the Government's announcement is a major boost to get more land owners considering mānuka as a land use alternative.
"Our initial test results have confirmed that scientifically bred cultivars planted in the right growing conditions has the potential to provide a new income source for landowners."
Lee said one test site had been located at Tutira, in Hawke's Bay.
Not only could landowners get funding support of $1800ha for mānuka plantations of 5ha to 300ha but they could also get additional support of $1000-$4000 per ha for planting other trees that will support bee health.
"This is significant to landowners, especially those planting over 100ha, as the ability to enhance the quality of mānuka can now be supported with finding for trees that complement manuka."
As well as economic benefits, mānuka offered many other benefits such as environmental in keeping water ways clean, dealing with sediment and nutrient issues in our water ways through to soil protection from erosion. The new fund also provides funding of $500ha for planting on erosion prone land.
Forestry Minister Shane Jones and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor last week launched the One Billion Trees Fund – a crucial step toward achieving the goal of planting at least one billion trees by 2028.
Led by Te Uru Rākau – Forestry New Zealand, the fund provides $118 million for simple and accessible grants to landowners and organisations looking to plant trees.
It also provides $120m for partnership projects that aim to reduce the barriers to tree planting through innovation, research and sector development initiatives.