Forestry and the New Zealand Economy

New Zealand is a small player in the international forestry industry, accounting for 1.1 percent of the world’s total supply of industrial wood and 1.3 percent of the world’s trade in forest products.  However, New Zealand supplies almost 9% of the Asia Pacific forest products trade volume, representing nearly 20% by value.  Forestry is therefore a significant industry in New Zealand, contributing an annual gross income of around $5 billion, 3 percent of New Zealand’s GDP and directly employing around 20 000 people.  Wood products are New Zealand’s third largest export earner behind dairy and meat.  

The industry is based around sustainably managed exotic plantation forests, covering 1.751 million hectares – approximately 7 percent – of New Zealand’s land area.  A further 6.5 million hectares is covered in indigenous forests, mostly managed by the Department of Conservation as part of the conservation estate.  Ninety percent of the exotic plantation area comprises radiata pine (Pinus radiata), with Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) accounting for six percent and the remainder of the estate made up of eucalyptus and other softwood and hardwood species.

The sector is entering an exciting new phase, as wood production volumes are expected to increase significantly in the coming years as forests planted in recent decades reach maturity.  Our forests are also at the centre of New Zealand’s climate change response efforts, and there is also increasing realisation of the environmental and social benefits delivered by forests.

MPI's role in Forestry

MPI is the Government’s principal adviser on forestry, including policy development and engagement at the domestic and international level.  New Zealand’s biosecurity system is led by MPI, protecting our forest resources from harmful pests and diseases.  We also administer the Government’s interests in commercial forestry through the Crown Forestry unit, representing forestry leases on Māori land, residual Crown forest assets and a portfolio of Forestry Encouragement Loans.  We work with the forestry sector to support its contribution to New Zealand’s development and economic growth.

Services we provide include:

MPI is committed to working with the sector to achieve:

  • an innovative and profitable forestry sector that takes full advantage of increasing demands for timber and wood products
  • an extended and sustainably managed forest resource providing valued environmental services



Last Updated: 30 April 2012

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