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16 March 2000
New Zealand's planted production forest covers 1.73 million hectares, according to a report recently published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The figures are in the MAF publication, A National Exotic Forest Description as at 1 April 1999.
The Central North Island has 569,000 hectares of planted forests, which is 33 percent of the national forest area.
The forests in the Central North Island region are the country's most mature, currently producing 58 percent of New Zealand's wood supply. Other significant forest resources are located in Northland, Nelson & Marlborough and Otago & Southland. The report shows significant afforestation is occurring in the Gisborne District.
The total standing volume of timber contained in these forests is 353 million cubic metres. In the year ended March 1999 the volume of timber in New Zealand's planted forests increased by 32.8 million cubic metres.
The current rate of harvesting is almost half the rate of growth due to significant areas of the forests being immature. Sixty-one percent of the forest area is 15 years old or younger because of planting done during the 1980s and 1990s. As these young forests mature, New Zealand's long term renewable wood supply is expected to double.
Harvesting has risen from 15.2 million cubic metres in the year ended December 1998 to 17.9 million cubic metres in the year ended December 1999 - an increase of about 18 percent. The increase has resulted from improved trading conditions in New Zealand's key export markets.
New Zealand's production forests are dominated by radiata pine, which makes up 1.56 million hectares, or 90 percent of the area. Douglas fir makes up a further 86,000 hectares (5 percent of the area). The remaining area is made up of hardwoods (3%) and other softwood species (2%).
About 69 percent of the radiata pine planted forest estate is, or is expected, to be pruned. The area of pruned radiata pine approaching harvesting age is increasing. Currently 1.02 million hectares, or 95 percent, of the pruned radiata pine estate is 25 years old or younger. Approximately 160,000 hectares of pruned radiata pine is between 21 and 25 years old, while 60,000 hectares of pruned radiata pine is older than 25 years.
Full details on New Zealand's planted forests are available in A National Exotic Forest Description as at 1 April 1999.
For further information contact:
Paul Lane or James Barton, MAF Policy, telephone 04 474 4100