The Afforestation Grant Scheme is designed to encourage more planting of trees in small forests and on farms.
Increasing the area of new forest that complies with Kyoto protocol rules will lead to more climate changing greenhouse gases being absorbed.
The government announced the scheme last year in a package of initiatives to reduce the impact of climate change. It offers an alternative to the proposed New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.
“The first round of public tenders is now open,” Jim Anderton said.
“I hope farmers and small forest owners will be attracted by the low compliance costs of the scheme.”
Foresters can receive a government grant for planting new forests on land that was unforested at 31 December 1989.
Those who receive grants under the scheme will own the new forests and earn income from the timber when harvested. The government will retain the Kyoto Protocol carbon sink credits and take responsibility for meeting harvesting and deforestation liabilities.
Half the funding in the Afforestation Grant Scheme will be available to Regional Councils to help meet their sustainable land management objectives. The other half will be available directly to the general public through a public tender pool.
Seventy per cent of the public tender pool will go to species that have high carbon sequestration rates. These will be usual exotic plantation species such as pinus radiata and Douglas fir.
The remaining thirty per cent will be reserved for species with low carbon sequestration rates.
The government expects most of the 2008 tenders will be for 2009 planting. The 2008 closing date will be 30 June.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), which administers the Afforestation Grant Scheme, has produced a guidelines booklet to explain the scheme and assist applicants.
Further details of the Regional Council component of the scheme will be announce shortly.
Copies of the Afforestation Grant Scheme Guidelines and application form can be downloaded from the MAF website, www.maf.govt.nz/climatechange , by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0800 CLIMATE (254 628)