The first year of a decade-long project to spend $47 million converting erosion-prone hill country into forestry will go forward for approval to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council this week.
The Trees On Farms project is thought to be the first of its kind headed by a council and in Hawke's Bay it would initially target the hill country south of Napier and rural Wairoa district, which were the two areas hit hard by the April 2011 storm.
Regional council's asset manager Mike Ayde presented the project to the council last week which showed its investment for the first year, 2012/13, would be about $892,000.
"The council has decided they want more financial information on the project so that will form part of a paper we've presenting back to the council next week. If approved, we can at least start with year one of the project."
Mr Ayde said there was about 150,000ha of steep, erodible hill country in Hawke's Bay under production which would be ideal for Trees On Farms.
"The objective is to work with farmers and land owners who have land which is subject to erosion and we can integrate planting of forests with better farming practices.
"It's certainly not blanket forestry and it will allow farmers to have an alternative source of income while improving their bottom line."
The council would recuperate its set-up costs of the project by selling carbon credits from the forests it would grow over the first 10 years.
Mr Ayde said he realised carbon credits were selling at an all-time low now, but the hope was rates would increase over the term of the project.
"We know the carbon market is here for the long-term and the forecast is that over time, as the financial situation in Europe improves, the carbon credits will improve."
Pinus radiata, eucalyptus tree varieties would be ideal for the project as ones good at converting carbon emissions but an indigenous forest in some areas might also be an option.
"It really comes down to which trees would be best suited for each site, the farm access and what the farmers or land owners want.
"We've only asked council to agree to year one at this stage, but this is a long-term project and we've indicated we want to plant about 15,000ha over 10 years."