Forestry Business

Forestry business encompasses the productive capacity of New Zealand’s planted forests, the value and volume of wood and wood products, and the value of environmental services and non-wood forest products.

These elements generate economic activity in both domestic and international arenas, and are closely monitored by the forest industry.

The planted estate - productive capacity

  • The total area of forest land and the area of forest land available for wood production have decreased slightly over the past decade. This is largely the result of planted forests being converted to agriculture following harvest.
  • The area of planted forest peaked at 1.84 million hectares in 2006, and has declined by about 3 percent to 1.72 million hectares in 2013.
  • The standing volume of planted forests increased by 18 percent between 2007 and 2013.
  • The standing volumes of the two main species have also increased 2007-2013: radiata pine by 27 percent and Douglas-fir by 54 percent. This is a result of mid-1990s plantings maturing.

New forest planting

Wood and wood products

Roundwood removals from forests in 2014 were estimated to be 30.4 million cubic metres (up from 19.3 million cubic metres in 2005).

The production of wood products in 2014 included approximately:

  • 4 million cubic metres of sawn timber
  • 1.8 million cubic metres of panel products
  • 1.5 million cubic metres of pulp
  • 0.7 million cubic metres of paper and paperboard
  • 17.3 million cubic metres of log and chip exports.

Non-wood forest products

Non-wood forest products (NWFP) are a small, but increasing, component of forestry business in New Zealand. The past 20 years have seen the range of products grow from game meat, honey and traditional extracts to a broader base, incorporating secondary crops and plant derivatives for skin care, health products and food ingredients. This growth has been based on research and trials by both private investors and government agencies.

  • Honey exports have been growing progressively over the past decade and reached 8000 tonnes in the 2012/13 season.
  • Possum fibre - the past 15 years has seen renewed commercial interest in the trapping of the Australian brushtailed possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). In 2008, the merino– possum yarn and fashion sector was estimated to be worth $50 to $70 million per annum, and a 2010 estimate put turnover at $100 million per annum.

Environmental services

New Zealand’s forests provide a broad range of environmental services. These benefit both local communities and the national economy.

Environmental services include:

  • erosion mitigation
  • nutrient filtering
  • biodiversity protection and enhancing
  • carbon sequestration
  • recreational health benefits.

While New Zealanders place a high priority on these services, they have generally been treated as free or public goods. The exceptions to this are (i) targeted initiatives for catchment management for erosion and flood protection, and (ii) the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (which provides tradable carbon credits).

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