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Funding boost for native tree restoration project

15 September 2020

More landowners will get access to expert advice on planting native trees with the expansion of a Restoration Ambassadors programme led by the University of Canterbury (UC).


Restoration Ambassador Dr Adam Forbes provides expert advice to farmers and landowners on how to restore native planting and manage areas of biodiversity. (Photo credit: Te Uru Rākau)


Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) has provided $400,000 from the One Billion Trees Fund to further support UC’s Te Kura Ngahere School of Forestry to run the programme.

The new funding will see two restoration ambassadors cover more areas of the North and South Island, providing expert advice to farmers and other landowners on how to restore native planting and manage areas of biodiversity.

UC Forestry Professor David Norton, who has been a driving force behind establishing the ambassador project, says it’s satisfying to see this valuable work being expanded, and the strong link with Te Uru Rākau continue.

“The 12-month pilot with ecology consultant and UC graduate Dr Adam Forbes as our first Restoration Ambassador has been very successful, so I am very pleased that Adam can continue in this valuable part-time role.

“While the focus of the work was the Gisborne and Hawkes Bay Regions, landowners from Whangaroa in Northland to Banks Peninsula in Canterbury and the Chatham Islands benefited from his expert advice,” he says.

“Adam has a really good manner with the people he works with, he just really listens to them and finds out what they want to do.”

Professor Norton says having a new full-time assistant Restoration Ambassador – a South Island-based role that will be filled by UC School of Forestry Masters graduate Josh Foster – will allow Dr Forbes to work on more large scale and complex projects.

The additional role will also help meet demand from South Island farmers.

“There’s huge interest from farmers down here needing advice on how to establish native forests on their land. Having two people in the role will mean more free and independent advice can be provided to farmers, iwi and others in rural New Zealand on how to carry out good quality, planned ecological restoration.”

Te Uru Rākau Director of Forest Development Grants & Partnerships Henry Weston says restoring native trees is a vital aspect of the One Billion Trees programme.

“We have found that the lack of access to good quality advice and information on tree planting is one of the major barriers preventing landowners moving ahead with their projects.”

“During the pilot more than 50 landowners accessed expert ecological advice and gained valuable guidance on restoring native trees to their land, with 12 landowners getting advice on their applications to the One Billion Trees Fund.”

Dr Forbes is thrilled to be able to continue in the role.  “It’s very important as establishing native forest isn’t straightforward. There is much more to it than planting trees, so having expert advice available to help people develop their restoration proposals is in everyone’s interests and helps ensure projects are successful.

“It has been a privilege to meet people and see their land and discuss with them something as positive as restoring native forest.”

Landowners can apply to the One Billion Trees Fund for both direct grants for planting and regeneration projects on individual land holdings, as well as partnership funding for projects that are catchment scale, or aim to reduce the barriers to tree planting.

The ambassadors can help with preparing applications to the One Billion Trees Fund to access funding for native planting work.

View a video of Dr Adam Forbes talking about his work as a One Billion Trees Restoration Ambassador:

Find out more about the One Billion Trees Programme:

More information about UC’s School of Forestry | Te Kura Ngahere:

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