- New Zealand's planted production forests covered an estimated 1.80 million hectares as at 1 April 2001. Seventy-one percent of the area is in the North Island and 29 percent is in the South Island. Thirty-two percent of the entire planted forest estate is in the Central North Island wood supply region. Other significant forest resources are in the Northland, Nelson/Marlborough and Otago/Southland regions.
- Radiata pine is the dominant species, making up 89 percent of the planted forest area, with Douglas-fir the next most common species, making up 6 percent. The balance comprises other softwood and hardwood species.
- About 67 percent (1.07 million hectares) of the radiata pine planted forest estate is, or is expected to be, pruned to a height of at least four metres. The area of pruned radiata pine approaching harvestable age is increasing. Approximately 7 percent (79,000 hectares) of pruned radiata pine is older than 25 years, while 16 percent (167,000 hectares) of pruned radiata pine is between 21 and 25 years old. Seventy-seven percent (828,000 hectares) of the pruned radiata pine estate is 20 years old or younger. One large public company is reducing the level of pruning carried out in its forests.
- Approximately 22 percent of the radiata pine planted forests are currently production thinned. The area of production thinned forest has declined in recent years: in 1995 28 percent of the radiata pine forests were, or were intended to be, production thinned. Production thinning of the radiata resource has decreased in the Central North Island wood supply region from 65 percent of the radiata resource in 1995 to 36 percent in 2001.
- An estimated 33,600 hectares of new forest was established in 2000. Fifty-two percent of this planting occurred on improved pasture, 31 percent on unimproved pasture and 17 percent on land where scrub was previously the predominant land cover. It is provisionally estimated that 31,300 hectares of new planting occurred during 2001.
- The average new planting rate over the last 30 years has been 45,200 hectares per year. In the period 1992 to 1998 new planting rates were high. During this period new planting averaged 69,000 hectares per year. Since 1998 the rate of new planting has declined. New planting is now below the average afforestation rate over the last 30 years.
- Since 1990 it is estimated that 588,000 hectares of forest have been established. New entrants to forestry have carried out much of this new planting. Accurate details of the ownership composition of these new entrants are not available. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of these new owners are either private land owners or syndicate investors and that most of the forests established by these owners are small in size. While these new owners have planted a significant area during the 1990’s, 72 percent (1.3 million hectares) of the entire forest resource is still currently owned by growers with more than one thousand hectares of forest.
- Significant areas of forest established in the 1970s are now maturing and are expected to be harvested over the next decade. Details about this forecast increase in harvest levels are available in NEFD National and Regional Wood Supply Forecasts 2000.
- An estimated 19.0 million cubic metres of roundwood were harvested from New Zealand’s planted production forests in the year ended 31 March 2001. An estimated 18.3 million cubic metres came from clear felling 38,000 hectares of planted forest, and 0.7 million cubic metres from production thinning. About 35,700 hectares of previously clear felled planted forest were replanted in 2000.
- The area-weighted average clear fell age of radiata pine increased from 26.8 years in the year ended 31 March 2000 to 27.0 years in the year ended 31 March 2001
Extract from Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF)