Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones wants to criminals to be "made to pick up a spade".
Speaking to the Tauranga Citizens Club on Wednesday, Mr Jones said: "If you can get up and go to work you should be made to do it," according to NZME.
A spokesperson for the Minister confirmed that officials from the One Billion Trees programme are "engaged in conversations with the Department of Corrections, including their nursery capabilities, and opportunities for making use of labour as part of reintegration into communities".
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The spokesperson said there had been "no discussions" at this stage about making tree planting compulsory.
Mr Jones has said the Government hopes for up to 1000 New Zealanders to be employed in rolling out the One Billion Trees programme.
So far the Government has allocated $485 million to the programme.
The goal of the scheme is to get an additional 60 million trees in the ground by 2020, and one billion trees by 2028.