This indicator provides information on the nature and extent of planted forests. Changes in the area of planted forests reflect society’s present and future needs, or the impact of competing land uses on forest cover. The use of both native and exotic planted species may enhance the range and quantity of goods and services available.
The National Exotic Forest Description provides comprehensive data on exotic planted forests, including details on area, and growing stock by species or species groups. There is no consolidated assessment of indigenous planted area or standing volume.
Almost all of New Zealand’s timber production comes from exotic planted species. Radiata pine and Douglas-fir predominate, and together account for over 95 percent of the total area and the total standing volume.
Estimates of the total area of indigenous planted forests range from 100 to 2500 hectares. The largest areas were established by the former New Zealand Forest Service following logging of old growth indigenous forests. They were primarily indigenous conifers (kauri, rimu and tōtara). Most of these historical plantings are on land that is now managed by the Department of Conservation, and are therefore unlikely to be harvested. Most present-day plantings are small (< 1 hectare) and have been established for a mix of purposes.
While the area of exotic planted forests has declined over the last decade (see Indicator 1.1.a), the standing volumes of the two main species have continued to increase: radiata pine by 27 percent and Douglas-fir by 54 percent. These increases are a result of mid-1990s plantings maturing.