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  • CarbonCrop Team

Get a Head Start on Your Forest Planting Strategy in 2024

Two hands holding a sapling ready to be planted on the leafy forest floor.

As we approach the 2024 planting season, it’s worth thinking about your options to make sure you're heading into the season with all the information you need to make the most of your planting. With the right information and strategy, you can turn your land into a valuable carbon sink, contributing positively to the environment, and providing you with an alternative revenue stream.

The planting season has specific dates that you'll want to be prepared for, so understanding your goals and having a plan in place is the key to success. This post will provide you with some of the points to consider while you plan.

Tree Species Earning Potential Overview

The right tree species choice is key. This post covers various species suitable for the ETS, including exotic options like Pinus Radiata and Eucalyptus, and indigenous options like Mānuka, Totara and Kānuka. Earning potential is one consideration for tree species choice, but planting location and co-benefits like land stabilisation and biodiversity can affect your choice.

Approaches to Planting

When it comes to planting, you have a few options:

DIY Approach

If you have the time and resources, you can undertake the planting yourself. This is often more labour-intensive but can be rewarding and cost-effective.

Working with a Nursery

If you have time but limited resources, collaborating with a local nursery can ensure you get quality saplings and expert advice on species suited to your land. Some nurseries can help with the planting labour, an example of this is Resource Native (catch our past webinar with Adam here)

Outsourcing Completely

You can get someone else to manage the entire planting process. Two possible options are:

Approximate Costs for Different Planting Methods

The costs vary based on the method you choose:


Lower cost. Spend is primarily for seedlings and tools, but this method requires significant personal time and effort. While this is considered the most cost-effective it is also the most labour-intensive. As labour is not typically costed (assumed to be provided by the landowner), there is an opportunity cost and large areas may be unattainable.

You could be looking at approximately $0.90 - $20 per tree in a DIY Scenario.*

Nursery Collaboration

Moderate cost. You pay for saplings and possibly some consultancy but save on labour. Some nurseries will provide labour, but ongoing management of the forest is not included in this scenario, and larger areas may be difficult to achieve if you have not planned ahead.

You could be looking at approximately $3-$40 per tree in a Nursery collaboration scenario.*

Full Outsourcing

Higher cost. It covers everything from planning to planting and, in some cases, ongoing maintenance. Full outsourcing could include a forestry consultant, volunteer/community initiative, or a partnership (e.g. Tāmata Hauhā)

You could be looking at approximately $10-$60 per tree in a fully outsourced scenario.*

Some partnerships can provide funding for the upfront costs, such as Tāmata Hauhā, covered by a fixed-term carbon-revenue sharing arrangement. It's worth exploring your options if you are looking to outsource.

*Please note: these are ballpark figures for demonstrative purposes only, and are not intended to provide advice on actuals. Costs can vary based on a multitude of factors including the specific location within New Zealand, the current market conditions, the scale of the planting project, and the specific requirements of the land and chosen tree species. You should always get quotes from suppliers for pricing. Do not act on this pricing information alone.

Insights into Funding and Approaches

Securing funding for your project can be achieved through various grants and incentives available in New Zealand. Researching local government grants and environmental subsidies can also be beneficial.

Remember: Once planted, your forest may be eligible for the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which may help to support your forest's ongoing maintenance and management.

Some funding options include:

Government Grants and Subsidies

The New Zealand government occasionally offers grants and subsidies for afforestation and reforestation projects.

More information about the available programmes, how to apply, and requirements can be found by checking the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) or the Ministry for the Environment websites.

Non-Governmental Funding and Investment

Private investors or environmental groups sometimes fund forestry projects, especially those with a significant environmental impact.

  • Your local regional council can be a valuable resource for funding advice. Some regions offer additional funds for forestry projects, and the council's land management team can guide you on where to look for these opportunities.

  • Department of Conservation (DOC) provides various funding options, including the Ngā Whenua Rāhui fund, which offers protection for Māori land through renewable covenants, and the Nature Heritage Fund, available for privately owned land with high biodiversity or ecological value.

  • Te Puni Kōkiri's Whenua Māori Fund supports Māori landowners in exploring land use options and ways to boost productivity. It can be a helpful resource for those looking to develop their land sustainably.

  • Organisations like Federated Farmers of New Zealand, Farm Forestry New Zealand, and the New Zealand Forest Owners Association might have information on funding opportunities or programmes to support new planting projects. Talking to these industry bodies and local groups can reveal additional funding sources, and provide a wealth of information and support during the process.

Partnerships / Carbon Financing

Collaborating with conservation organisations, or local iwi can open up funding opportunities, particularly for projects with strong community or cultural benefits. Engaging in carbon financing partnerships, where upfront costs are covered in exchange for a share of future carbon credits.

An example of this is Tāmata Hauhā, who take on the planting costs and labour, administrative obligation, and all of the risk to support you in your carbon forestry goals.


Embarking on a forest planting project is a journey that requires careful planning and understanding of the moving pieces. Whether you choose to do it yourself, work with experts, or outsource entirely, the benefits of carbon farming extend beyond environmental impact. 

If you’re considering planting this year, want to outsource, or are looking for funding options, reach out to us.

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