A funding boost of $422,500 for research to improve New Zealand's native seedline production has been announced by Forestry Minister Shane Jones in Rotorua today.
Jones has announced the One Billion Trees Programme is providing a funding boost to identify more effective native seedling propagation techniques and technology.
The research is being led by Crown research institute, Scion, in partnership with other Bay of Plenty organisations.
Jones said the One Billion Trees Fund launched last year was not just about putting trees in the ground.
"We have a significant amount of money available for partnerships like this that focus on reducing the barriers to tree planting through research, innovation or sector development," he said. "This project ticks all of those boxes."
Jones said the aim of the project was to understand what was and wasn't working and to address key issues, such as seedling survivability and how to create more efficient ways to produce good quality native seedlings.
There was also the potential to see a more environmentally friendly approach to seedling production through the use of paper wrap, Jone said.
"What's important about this partnership is that it goes beyond just theory. Scion's aim is to ensure their research into improving native seedling propagation is scalable and available to the industry at large," he said.
Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder said research of this kind underpinned the Government's investment in native forestry.
"This funding boost will accelerate the planting of native trees through improved and cost-effective propagation technologies," Elder said.
"Our unique nursery research facilities combined with our other research capabilities in bioproducts allows us to pursue a more sustainable approach for New Zealand."
Jones said the Government's One Billion Trees programme was realising the potential of Māori land in the Bay of Plenty.
"Crown Forestry will invest $5 million into two joint ventures that will see 330ha of land converted to productive forests," Jones said.
"It brings Crown Forestry's investment in the Bay of Plenty to $6.3m and takes the total number of joint ventures in New Zealand to 25, totalling over 15,000ha."
The first joint venture is 194ha owned by Pukahukiwi Kaokaoroa 2 Incorporation, while a further 141ha is owned by Waipapa 2B2 Ahu Whenua Trust.
"These properties included eucalyptus crops, which failed to realise an income for the landowners," Jones said.
"One of the core goals of the One Billion Trees Programme is supporting Māori to realise their land aspirations. This goes right to the heart of that."
Jone said these partnerships will create an income for the Trusts through rental and a share of the profits at harvest, as well as the potential to upskill workers to eventually take over management of the forest from the Crown.
Up to 235,000 trees will be planted on the two properties this season, with land preparation now underway.