Getting started in farm forestry

Forests are a valuable form of erosion control and carbon management. The timber they produce can also provide a supplementary income. Find out what you need to know to start your own farm forest.

Trees bring benefits to farms

The benefits of planting on farmland include:

  • soil retention on steep slopes
  • revenue generation in the long term – around 25 to 35 years
  • landscape diversity and wildlife habitat
  • shade for livestock
  • windbreak
  • carbon absorption – a valuable part of managing and mitigating climate change
  • carbon credits – subject to the provisions in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Planning your forest

Forests are a long term investment – changing your mind once you've begun can be expensive. Consider:

  • why you're planting a forest – what incentives or benefits do you want?
  • where to plant your new forest
  • what types of trees will work best for your land
  • the size of your new forest
  • the cost – preparation, planting, maintenance and harvesting
  • resource management – talk to your local council before you begin making plans
  • if, how and when your forest will be harvested.

Talk to your local council before making any decisions

Local and regional councils are responsible for administering the Resource Management Act and local body regulations. They also keep track of areas of significant value – sections of land that are protected for cultural, historical or ecological reasons and cannot be forested.

Areas of significant value may:

  • contain historic pā or burial sites
  • be considered tapu
  • be controlled by your local iwi
  • form a protected habitat for native wildlife (including wetlands).

Changes to resource management administration

National standards have replaced local and regional resource management plans for plantation forests. The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) came into effect on 1 May 2018 and provide a consistent set of regulations for plantation forestry activities.

Help is available

It's a good idea to engage a professional forestry consultant before you decide what to plant and where. The NZ Institute of Forestry maintains a list of registered consultants.

Advice and support

Forestry industry bodies and private interest groups provide a range of advice and support to both commercial and private forest owners. Find out more on each association's website.

You may be eligible for assistance

MPI has funding available to encourage innovation and support forestry projects that improve land production or reduce erosion.

If your iwi or hapū has land in collective ownership, you may be eligible for development assistance through our Māori agribusiness programme.

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