Air New Zealand has today announced it will work with the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to explore the establishment of a private afforestation scheme, providing funding to landowners to plant trees in return for the carbon benefits this will create.

Building on the success of MPI’s existing Afforestation Grant Scheme, Air New Zealand is working with Government to scope a complementary private afforestation fund, with the airline to engage landowners to plant up to 15,000 hectares of new native and exotic trees.

If the fund goes ahead, Air New Zealand intends to offset some of the emissions from its domestic operations with credits generated by the new forestry. It hopes planting will commence in winter 2018.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the initiative demonstrates how business and government can work together to move New Zealand 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.

“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,” says Mr Luxon.

MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne says the Ministry is well-placed to be involved with this 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,” says Mr Dunne.

Secretary for the Environment Vicky Robertson says: “I’d like to congratulate Air New Zealand. Partnerships like this between Government and industry provide the opportunity to make a positive difference to New Zealanders and the environment.”