Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones is again dipping into the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) kitty to help with the Government's goal of planting one billion trees.
This morning, Jones announced the fund would provide $2.2 million towards planting almost 250,000 native trees in Punakaiki, on the West Coast, and at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury.
Roughly half of the $2.2m would be spent on planting 35.8ha of native forest – almost 180,000 trees – at Punakaiki.
The rest was earmarked for almost 70,000 trees at the Te Waihora/Lakes Ellesmere shoreline. This would create 34ha of new kahikatea forest by the lake.
"Planting these native trees has multiple benefits," Jones said.
"It's good for the economy and for our regional communities through creating jobs,
providing skills training and enhancing ecological tourism opportunities in the regions."
He said the trees would help New Zealand meet its climate change objectives and provide conservation benefits as native forests are restored and habitats for native birds and other wildlife are created.
Jones was also upbeat about the economic benefit the projects would bring to the areas.
"In Punakaiki, planting will enable an expansion of the Conservation Work Skills programme for school leavers and unemployed youth who will gain work skills and improve their employment prospects."
He said the restoration would benefit tourism and support and enhance a whitebait breeding ground.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage welcomed the PGF spend on the new trees, especially in Te Waihora – one of the country's largest coastal wetland areas.
The lake's shoreline was once covered with native forest, she said.
"Now, there's barely any kahikatea swamp forest left in the whole of Canterbury so restoring kahikatea forest on the shores of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere has huge conservation and cultural value."
In August, Jones said the PGF would provide an additional $240m to help the Government meet its one billion trees target.
That additional funding was on top of the $245m that had already been committed to the project through the PGF.