Search begins for small woodlots
A SEARCH IS ABOUT TO GET UNDER way to discover the location of thousands of woodlots scattered around New Zealand.
Currently there is very little information about small scale forest owners, and yet, they make up a significant proportion of the forestry coming up for harvest in the next decade.
So, the Ministry of Primary Industries is looking to collect more information about small-scale forests in order to plan better for the expected harvesting volumes.
Stephen Murray, Team Leader Data & Analysis, Policy and Trade for MPI, told the Harvest TECH 2017 conference in Rotorua last month that while data is collected annually from corporate forest owners and two-yearly for those with blocks between 44 and 999 hectares, no information is gathered from owners of blocks under 44 hectares.
It is estimated that more than 10,000 individual owners fall into the under-44ha category and Mr Murray says it is very difficult to find out who and where they are.
“We just don’t know much about them,” he says.
Most of the information that is currently held about them comes from a survey carried out in the mid-2000s, augmented by data based on tree plantings in the various regions.
“But we are not 100% confident about that information, especially where those forests are located,” he says.
“We need to know where they are, so we can be better informed about things like roading.”
Current estimates indicate that small forestry blocks under 44 hectares make up a total of around 218,000 hectares. Large chunks are in the central and lower North Island, Northland and lower South Island.
Mr Murray says MPI is about to launch a new spatial forestry mapping programme aimed at getting more precise information about where all plantations, large and small, are located. This will be cross-referenced with information from the NZ Forest Growers Association, which represents large corporate owners, and the NZ Farm Forestry Association. It will indicate where gaps exist.
The Ministry’s data system has not been stable enough for this exercise to be carried out until it was recently upgraded.
“Having got the system sorted, the goal now is to collect all this spatial information so we can see where these forests are and build a much more accurate map of forestry in New Zealand,” Mr Murray adds.
This graph, taken from an MPI report, is a simplistic view of the amount of wood coming from small-scale forests in the coming years – it is unlikely to spike like that, but will probably spread over more years