Forestry major export earner
For many years forestry has been a huge part of the New Zealand economy, and with timber being one of the most sustainable products anywhere in the world, forestry as an industry will only get more important.
Whilst New Zealand native timber is a fantastic product, the trees are generally very slow growing, which can lead to a gradual reduction in the areas of forest.
On the other hand, exotic trees such as pinus radiata, macracarpa, douglas fir, and bluegum grow much faster in New Zealand than overseas in their native environment.
The total area of exotic forest in New Zealand is approximately 1.7 million hectares according to figures for the 2012/2013 year. The vast majority of the exotic forestry is pinus radiata
Most of the exotics have a growth period of about 35 years from planting to maturity with the larger forests undergoing harvesting and replanting as the trees reach maturity.
The actual management of the forests including planting, pruning, thinning and finally logging, provides a variety of work throughout New Zealand but if you bear in mind that only about 50 per cent of the timber is exported as logs, even more downstream jobs are provided.
Timber not exported as logs is turned into various products such as fibre board, plywood, wood chips, mouldings and paper.
The industrial plants that produce these end products are spread around New Zealand because it is more economic to be reasonably close to the timber growth source.
Total timber industry employment amounts to approximately 1,8000 jobs with 7000 in the forestry sector and 11,000 in the various downstream production. Add to this the value to other associated industries such as transport, and the value of trees to New Zealand is obvious.
The total industry including logs and downstream products are worth a staggering $4.5 billionin exports to the New Zealand economy.
Principle export markets are China and Australia along with exports to most countries in the South East Asian region plus the USA and Africa.
With global warming discussion around the world becoming more and more relevant, sooner or later New Zealand will end up as a signatory of a global agreement on carbon emissions, and forestry would have the potential to earn even more for the economy.
Most of industry and indeed farming emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, whereas trees, through the process of photosynthesis basically gobble up carbon dioxide, and spit out oxygen, making them an ideal companion plant for us human beings.
Trees store the carbon and only release it back into the atmosphere when they die, by which time we will have planted replacements that gobble up the released carbon dioxide again.
The bulk of New Zealand forestry is large areas of commercially owned forest, but there is also a sizeable area that is made up from smaller blocks on family owned farms, planted as a long term investment.
In the many years I spent dealing with the farming community, I often came across farmers that had planted trees on land with a separate title. This gave them an investment that could be used or sold without impacting on the family farm.
Smaller blocks: The bulk of New Zealand forestry is large commercially owned forest, but a sizeable area is smaller blocks on family-owned farms.
Fast growing: Exotic trees grow much faster in New Zealand than overseas in
their native environment.