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National Exotic Forest Description

Date: 28th April 2023

A really informative report has just been jointly released by the NZ Farm Forestry Association, Forest Owners Association and Te Uru Rakau (NZ Forest Service). It’s well worth reading and is an easy read as an introduction to how our commercial forest resources are managed.


The report is a database of New Zealand’s production forests which has been published annually since 1985 and gives information on New Zealand’s exotic planted production forest estate (i.e., exotic forest planted with the primary intention of producing wood or wood fibre).

The data collected in the NEFD is used to inform the forestry sector, the wood processing industry, and central and local government policymakers and planners about New Zealand’s planted forest estate. The information also assists with international reporting obligations and is the foundation for creating wood availability forecasts which identify wood processing opportunities in New Zealand.

As of 1 April 2022, the total net stocked area of planted forest was estimated to be 1.76 million hectares (Figure 3, Table 3 – refer table below). Including the area of land currently awaiting replanting after harvesting (50,221 hectares), makes the estimated total forest area 1.81 million hectares.

The 2021 net stocked forest area has been revised to 1.74 million hectares, due to new information including updated returns from respondents and amendments to historical data. The area reported for 2022 was an increase of 17,480 hectares (1 percent) from the 2021 net stocked area of 1.74 million hectares. Year-on-year changes in the net stocked area can be caused by new information,
updated returns from respondents, and changes in land use decisions by forest landowners.

Radiata pine and Douglas fir are the primary exotic forest species. The estimated known area of radiata pine increased by 15,892 hectares between 2021 and 2022. The increase was due to re-mapping of existing forestry (including from changes in ownership), and planting of additional forestry. Douglas-fir area increased by 2,521 hectares between 2021 and 2022.

The report includes area in hectares and by age classes of each species by wood supply region. Each region is further broken down into territorial authority areas. Douglas fir is more of a South Island species with Otago/Southland wood supply region having the highest volume followed by Canterbury.

Radiata pine has always been our main forestry timber tree. It is more of a northern tree with the central North Island wood supply region dominating the numbers followed by Northland. However, a number of other regions are close to that Northland number including southern North Island, East Coast and Otago/Southland.

The report also details area planted in cypress, other softwoods, eucalypts and other hardwoods. It also covers the volume of new plantings, harvesting and various pruning regimes as well as general information on forest ownership. Well worth a read.

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