Air New Zealand says it is working with the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries to explore the establishment of a new tree planting fund.
The afforestation scheme would provide landowners with finance to plant trees in return for the carbon benefits it would create.
Building on the success of MPI’s existing Afforestation Grant Scheme, Air New Zealand said it would engage with landowners to plant up to 15,000 hectares of new native and exotic trees.
If the fund goes ahead, the airline intends to offset some of the emissions from its domestic operations with credits generated by the new forestry. It hopes planting would commence in winter 2018.
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said the initiative demonstrated how business and government could work together to move the country towards a low emissions future.
“As an airline, managing our carbon footprint is a key challenge and while we are working hard to improve efficiencies, offsetting is an important tool in our carbon reduction efforts,” said Luxon.
“Air New Zealand has been a strong advocate for more quality offsetting options within New Zealand and we are pleased to work with Government to encourage thousands more hectares of trees into the emissions trading scheme, which will create broader social, environmental and economic benefits.”
MPI director-general Martyn Dunne said the ministry was well-placed to be involved with the initiative.
“MPI has significant expertise and experience in forestry and forestry-related investment. We’re proud to be working with Air New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment to scope this important initiative, which could have far-reaching environmental and economic benefits,” said Dunne.
Secretary for the Environment, Vicky Robertson, said: “Partnerships like this between Government and industry provide the opportunity to make a positive difference to New Zealanders and the environment.”