Mānuka Farming New Zealand chief executive Stephen Lee welcomes the Government’s One Billion Trees Fund announcement saying it will ensure that large scale land owners consider the many environmental and economic benefits of planting mānuka.
Landowners can receive funding support across both of the newly established funds – the Direct Landowner Grants and the Partnership Grant.
Mr Lee said with some exciting trial results from scientifically bred seedling imminent, the funding announcement will create strong land owner interest.
“We are on the verge of releasing some very exciting plantation trial site results for high grade mānuka and the government’s announcement is a major boost to get more land owners considering mānuka as an land use alternative.
“Our initial test results have confirmed that scientifically bred cultivars planted in the right growing conditions has the potential to provide a new income source for land owners,” Mr Lee said.
Mr Lee said landowners can not only get funding support of $1800ha for mānuka plantations of 5ha to 300ha but additional support of $1000-$4000 per ha for planting other trees that will support bee health.
“This is significant to landowners, especially those planting over 100ha, as the ability to enhance the quality of mānuka can now be supported with finding for trees that complement manuka.
As well as economic benefits, mānuka offers many other benefits such as environmental in keeping water ways clean, dealing with sediment and nutrient issues in our water ways through to soil protection from erosion. The new fund also provides funding of $500ha for planting on erosion prone land.
“Planting the wrong tree type can have a significant detrimental impact on the land – whether that be at harvest time or during weather events such as storms. Landowners need to consider their current land use.
“Over years of breeding we have taken out a lot of the guess work with traditional sourced wild mānuka.
“We now have 5 high performing mānuka cultivars, that flower at different times and have been field tested in a range of environments over several years and can now be best matched to sites to produce high UMF honey that has a higher return for the landowner at the farm gate.
Mānuka Farming NZ will also look to further develop partnerships with the likes of regional councils, Māori organisations, research organisations and New Zealand businesses as part of the Partnership Grant fund.
“Our priority areas align with this fund, with our organisation being created on similar fundamentals of large scale plantings for environmental benefits; using science to create high grade manuka, both in quality of the seedlings as well as planting the right tree in the right place,” Mr Lee said.
Priority is given to surge regions identified in the Provincial Growth fund.
“This also aligns well with the establishment of manuka plantations as we have had considerable success in trials in regions such as Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu and Northland.
Mānuka Farming NZ will have a limited number of seedlings available (for approximately 1,300 ha) for planting in 2019.