Forestry is New Zealand's third biggest export industry, after dairy and meat. Find out about New Zealand forestry and what MPI does to support, promote and manage the industry.
New Zealand forestry
New Zealand has a total of 10.1 million hectares of forests, covering 38% of the land. Of this, 8 million hectares are in indigenous forest. The area of plantation forest is 2.1 million hectares, of which 1.7 million hectares is productive area, with the balance being reserves and unplanted areas near water bodies and infrastructure. These 2 classes of forest have different biology, management, and values to New Zealanders.
The Crown is the major indigenous forest owner. Through the Department of Conservation, it manages about 5.2 million hectares of New Zealand's tall indigenous forests for conservation of biodiversity, heritage and recreation. Most of this Crown-owned forest is protected in national parks, scenic reserves and other conservation areas.
New Zealand's forestry industry is largely based around sustainably managed plantation forests. Around 90% of our plantation forests are radiata pine (Pinus radiata). The remainder are Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), eucalyptus and other softwood and hardwood species.
Ninety-six percent of plantation forests in New Zealand are privately owned and used for commercial timber production.
The value of forestry to New Zealand
Forestry's importance to New Zealand goes beyond commercial timber production. Forestry has a number of benefits to the environment, society (including Māori), and the economy.
Forests help reduce climate change, protect biodiversity, improve water quality and protect soils. New Zealand's forests play a significant role in the Government's response to climate change through the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Forests (particularly New Zealand's indigenous forests) provide important recreational areas, including national parks, scenic reserves, and other conservation areas.
Forestry and its related wood processing industries provide jobs for over 17,000 people in New Zealand.
Although small on a global scale, forestry production is important to the New Zealand economy. Forestry exports are worth around $5 billion a year and provide 3.2% of our GDP. Forest products are New Zealand's third largest export earner behind dairy and meat.
Many of our forest products are exported to Asia Pacific countries, with our main markets being China, Australia, the Republic of Korea and Japan. We are well set up to increase forestry exports, as many forests that were planted during the 1990s are now reaching maturity.
Māori and forests
Māori have strong cultural and spiritual links to indigenous forests. Māori involvement in plantation forestry is steadily increasing and provides an option for the protection of lands, employment and economic benefits.
High-quality investment in forestry can bring benefits for New Zealanders.
If you are overseas and wish to invest in forestry here, apply for consent through the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) within Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).
The consent process applies to buying or leasing land for forestry purposes (including converting farmland to forestry) or purchasing forestry rights. There are 3 consent types available.
Overseas investment in sensitive or significant assets in New Zealand is governed by the Overseas Investment Act 2005. This was updated through the Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2018 which came into force on 22 October 2018.
- Overseas Investment Act 2005 – NZ Legislation website
- Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2018 – NZ Legislation website
Find out more
- New Zealand forestry data
- 2014 plantation forest facts and figures – Forest Owner's Association website
Who to contact
If you have questions about New Zealand forestry, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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