New Zealand's forest industry

New Zealand’s forestry industry provides tens of thousands of jobs for New Zealanders. Forest products are New Zealand's third-largest export earner. Find out about this industry.

Forestry is a significant industry for New Zealand

Forestry contributes:

  • an annual gross income of around $6.7 billion
  • 1.6% of New Zealand's GDP (Gross Domestic Product)
  • to the employment of around 35,000 people in wood production, processing, and the commercial sector.

Wood products are New Zealand's third-largest export earner, behind dairy and meat.

New Zealand is a small player in the international forestry industry, contributing only 1.1% of the world's total supply of industrial wood and 1.3% of the world's trade in forest products.

A record 35.4 million cubic metres of timber was harvested in 2018, an increase of 10% on the previous year. Volumes are expected to be high for the next decade (to 2030) as forests planted in recent decades reach maturity.

The export value of forest products in the year to June 2018 was $6.38 billion – $3.3 billion from logs and $3 billion from other forest products.

Quick facts about the forestry industry

The industry is based around sustainably managed exotic plantation forests, covering about 7% of New Zealand's land area. Radiata pine (Pinus radiata) makes up 90% of the exotic plantation area, with Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) accounting for 6%, and the rest made up of eucalypti and other species.

New Zealand's forests

  • New Zealand’s net stocked planted production forest covered an estimated 1.73 million hectares as of 1 April 2018.
  • The total planted forest standing volume was estimated to be 491 million cubic metres with an average forest standing age (area-weighted) of 17.63 years.
  • The provisional new planting estimate for the year ending 31 December 2018 is 9,100 hectares. This number may be revised in the 2019 NEFD.

2018 NEFD report [PDF, 3.9 MB]

Forestry data

Forestry facts and figures – New Zealand Forest Owners’ Association

Wood processing

For the year ending September 2018:

  • almost 36 million cubic meters of roundwood was removed
  • total sawn timber production was 4.5 million cubic metres
  • 42% of all lumber produced was exported
  • panel production was 1.8 million cubic metres
  • 1.4 million air dry tonnes of wood pulp was produced.

Wood processing data

Wood product markets

For the year ended June 2018:

  • total exports of forestry products from New Zealand were $6.4 billion
  • of total forestry exports, 48% went to China
  • the value of sawn timber exports reached $891 million.

Wood product markets data

National standards

The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry are about improving the management of the environmental effects of forestry.

Find out more about the standards

Who to contact

If you have questions about forestry statistics or would like to get them in a CSV format, email


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