Another alert has been sounded by the Point of Order Trough Monitor, this time drawing attention to the establishment of yet another trough and a rich swill.
News of this trough was announced in a press statement from Forestry Minister Shane Jones – fast becoming the Lord High Bestower of Beehive Beneficence – and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
Today they launched the One Billion Trees Fund, describing it as a crucial step toward achieving the goal of planting at least one billion trees by 2028.
The headline on their press statement is telling: One Billion Trees Fund offers new opportunities.
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 $120 million for partnership projects that aim to reduce the barriers to tree planting through innovation, research and sector development initiatives.
“The One Billion Trees Programme sets an ambitious target, but brings with it the huge opportunity to revitalise our regions and create real economic, social and environmental benefits across the country. It will also support Māori to realise the potential of their land,” Shane Jones said.
“The Government is committed to achieving these benefits for New Zealanders who have already shown an impressive amount of interest and goodwill in the programme. This year we exceeded the planting goal, with over 60 million trees planted.
“The new Fund will build on this early momentum by supporting planting to reduce erosion, improve water quality, achieve regional development goals, enhance biodiversity, develop Māori-owned land and diversify productive land use.
“Officials will monitor the rollout of the new grant scheme to ensure our focus remains on putting the right tree in the right place for the right purpose,” Shane Jones said.
O’Connor said this is another example of the Coalition Government’s partnership with farmers to help them extract more value from their businesses.
“The key to any sustainable business is diversification and I encourage those interested to take up these grants that reflect our ambition to work in partnership with farmers to get more from what they do,” Damien O’Connor said.
We trust the Ministers are keeping an accurate count, but according to their statement this brings the total for the One Billion Trees Programme, funded from the Provincial Growth Fund, to $480 million.
Other initiatives include joint ventures between landowners and Crown Forestry to plant commercial forestry and the community planting programme, Matariki Tu Rākau.
Applications to the new Fund are now open through Te Uru Rākau and can be submitted all year round.
So hurry, hurry, hurry…
And when this lot’s all gone, let’s not rule out more millions being found to open even more opportunities.