Hawke's Bay Regional Council is welcoming the Government's announcement that $240 million from the Provincial Growth Fund will be directed into tree planting projects.

Council chairman Rex Graham said it was great to see the Government recognising the importance of forestry.

"It's a really excellent response from the Government," Graham said.

The regional council is currently working on a joint venture with Ngāti Kahungunu, which he says they are hoping to get government funding for.


The project, named the Kahutia Accord, would see 200,000ha of trees planted over the next 10 years, preventing nearly 3 million tonnes of silt entering Hawke's Bay's waterways.

"We've already been to the Government and they really like the partnership.

"We're putting in funding, Kahungunu is putting in funding and we are looking to the Government to put in funding as a full partner with us in Hawke's Bay."

He said the region had one of the largest problems with soil erosion in the country and expanding forestry was the key to solving that.

"We have some of the worst erosion, eroding areas in the country."

He said erosion had been caused by deforestation, with forests being cleared for farming in areas which were inappropriate.

"Putting farms into areas where there should never have been farms.

"Not saying that in total, but all the gullies and ridges and steep country should never have been farmed."


He said the resulting silt was destroying Hawke's Bay's waterways.

"We need to crack this urgently if we are going to stop the destruction of our streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries."

HBRC forestry management adviser Ben Douglas said the Government's focus on forestry aligned with the council's plan for the region.

"The council's plan involves combining the resources of landowners, ratepayers and central government for the transformation of our landscapes over the next decade," Douglas said.

"The council is working closely with the new forestry agency, Te Uru Rakau, and Ngati Kahungunu, on Provincial Growth Fund proposals."

Minister for Forestry Shane Jones said the funding was for areas where wider social, environmental or regional development benefits could be achieved.

"Private landowners, government agencies, NGOs and iwi will all be able to apply," Jones said.

The aim was to have the right tree in the right place for the right purpose, said Jones.

"These grants will be available from later this year and we're aiming to encourage the planting of natives, trees for erosion control, and environmentally focused planting."

The funding is on top of $245m set aside by the Provincial Growth Fund to kick-start the One Billion Trees programme, which aims to plant 1 billion trees over 10 years.