New Zealand has a total of 10.1 million hectares of forests, covering 38 percent of the land area. This includes 8.0 million hectares of indigenous forests and 2.1 million hectares of plantation forests. These forests are fundamentally different in their biological characteristics, management objectives, and respective roles in fulfilling the needs of New Zealand society.
New Zealand’s plantation forests are dominated by one species; radiata pine (Pinus radiata), which accounts for 90 percent of the planted area. Ninety-four percent of the plantation forest estate is in some form of private ownership, with the principal management objective being the commercial production of timber.
Following a period of expansion of the plantation forest estate through to the early 2000s, there has been a small decline in net area of about 3 percent. This reflects, in part, the conversion of plantations to more profitable agricultural land uses. Large areas of plantation forest have shifted from listed companies to various forms of private ownership over the last decade.