MAF releases annual snapshot of plantation forests

25 May 2007

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s just released annual forest description report shows a small decrease in the plantation forest area in New Zealand over the year to April 2006. This is the second consecutive year in its 23 year history that the report records a decrease in forest area.

The National Exotic Forest Description (NEFD) database report says planted production forests cover an estimated 1.80 million hectares – 70 percent of which are in the North Island.

MAF Principal Adviser Paul Lane says this year’s report notes the continuing trend of not replanting all forests after harvesting, and in some cases converting immature forest to pasture. This trend started on a larger scale in 2004.

The 2006 survey indicates approximately 12,900 hectares of forest clear felled in the year to 31 March 2006 will not be replanted. This represents a third of the total area harvested. Most of this ‘deforestation’ occurred in the Central North Island and Canterbury, mostly converted to pasture. “New Zealand has always had dynamic landscape, so changes in land use are not unusual,” says Paul Lane. However up until 2004 it was unusual for plantation forests to be cleared.

The NEFD report is produced in partnership with the New Zealand Forest Owners’ Association and the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association.

Paul Lane says this industry/Government partnership has been in place since the 1980s and has been very effective in ensuring a national forest database has been maintained during a period of unprecedented forest ownership changes.

“Its information is compiled from a survey of forest owners and consultants who own or manage planted production forests and is published to help with infrastructure and policy planning,” Paul Lane says.

The report shows within plantation forests, 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 six percent. The balance comprises other softwood and hardwood species.

Hard copies of the NEFD 2006 Report are available free of charge by emailing or by writing to Policy Publications, MAF Policy, PO Box 2526, Wellington.

It is also available on the MAF website at:

For further information, please contact:

Paul Lane | Principal Policy Adviser | Ph 04 894 0625 or 029 894 0625

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33