6.1.b Value of non-wood forest products produced or collected


This indicator provides information on the value of non-wood forest products. The collection, processing and use of non-wood forest products are important dimensions of the economic value of forests. In some countries, non-wood forest products are vital to the livelihoods and lifestyles of indigenous and other rural communities.

Current state

Timber production is just one of the economic benefits that New Zealand derives from its indigenous and planted forests. The 10.1 million hectare forest estate is a significant component of New Zealand’s tourism industry. The tourism industry is one of the economic drivers of the economy, particularly in rural and more remote areas. The industry directly contributed $8.3 billion (or 4.0 percent) to gross domestic product (GDP) in the March 2014 year and a further $6.5 billion of indirect value added (equal to 3.2 percent of GDP). At an employment level, the tourism industry directly employed 4.7 percent of the working population in the March 2014 year. This equated to 94 100 full- time equivalent (FTE) positions.

Some 70 percent of international tourists are estimated to participate in at least one ‘nature-based activity’, such as bush-walking, glacier walks, trekking, visiting national parks and lakes, scenic drives and geothermal attractions.

Another industry with a strong reliance on New Zealand’s forests and bush lands is apiculture. The forest estate is an important source of pollen and nectar for apiarists. Several monofloral honeys are sourced from forest and bush lands. Honey exports have grown strongly over the past decade, and this has generated increased interest in the opportunities provided by the forest estate.

New Zealand’s indigenous and planted forests have also been used over the past century for commercial game and trophy hunting, possum trapping (for fur and skins) and sphagnum moss collection. These activities employ relatively small numbers but can be important in local communities. A range of medicinal herbs and berries have traditionally been collected by Māori and the early European settlers. These resources have mainly been gathered for personal use, but are attracting increasing commercial interest for health and skin-care products. For the future, research and commercial trials are under way on the establishment of secondary crops in planted forests (such as mycorrhizal mushrooms). The intention is to diversify production and improve the economic returns from forestry.

Honey production and related products

The forest estate is an important source of pollen and nectar for apiarists. Several indigenous tree species have been identified as having favourable traits for honey production, and a range of monofloral honeys have been developed. These include mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium), southern rātā (Metrosideros umbellata) and tāwari (Ixerba brexiodes). Mānuka honey is particularly favoured as it contains a number of natural compounds with recognised antibacterial properties, which enable it to be used in medical dressings and for treating burns.

Nationally, New Zealand produced 17 825 tonnes of honey in the 2012/13 season. Estimating the proportion of honey derived from forests and pasture species would be difficult because apiarists frequently move their hives into forested areas or locate them on the bush line in early spring, so they can access nutrients from the bush. Indigenous forests provide the hives with an early season nectar flow that is critical for building up bee colonies.

The value of honey exports was $170.5 million in the December 2013 year. The industry also produces a range of secondary products, for both the domestic and export market. These include: beeswax, live bees and queen bees.

Possum fibre and related products

Originally introduced with the objective of building a fur trade in New Zealand, the possum population expanded rapidly (due to a lack of predators) and is now estimated to be 30.3 million. The species is a significant threat to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna.

The revival in trapping stems from consumer interest in the inherent thermal qualities of possum fibre and new manufacturing techniques that enable possum fibre to be blended with merino wool, to create a light- weight, high-quality yarn.

A small trade in fur skins continues and there is also interest in possum meat as a high-quality pet food.

Game meat

Commercial hunting remains at relatively low levels and could be described as a niche industry. In 2012, four processing companies handled most of the feral deer that were commercially hunted. Recreational hunting remains a significant activity.

Guided hunting

New Zealand has developed an international reputation as a destination for game hunting. The industry now includes a number of game estates and reserves where selected stock are introduced. Game estates can be well over 2000 hectares in size, and are comparable to open range hunting. Hunters are attracted by New Zealand’s wilderness experiences and the range of species that can be hunted. These include chamois, red and sika deer, tahr and wapiti.

All of these species have been introduced over the past 150 years and have established in New Zealand’s forest and conservation lands.

More recent estimates of earnings from the game estate and guided hunting industry are in the vicinity of $25 million per annum. In 2013, the Game Animal Council Act established the Game Animal Council, which has a range of functions in relation to game animals including the improvement of hunting opportunities and setting minimum standards for hunting guides and estates.

In addition to commercial game hunting, New Zealand receives substantial numbers of visitors who hunt with friends and family, or who arrange their own hunting permits. While these visitors are not recorded in the game industry financial estimates, they do contribute to local economic activity through expenditure on accommodation and other services.

Sphagnum moss collection

A regionally important activity for the West Coast of the South Island has been the collection of sphagnum moss (Sphagnum cristatum) (see Indicator 2.e). A large percentage of this crop is exported to Japan and Southeast Asia, where the principal customers are orchid growers. Exports have declined in the past decade, and have been in the range of $3.9 million to $4.5 million since 2011.

Future crops

Several innovative research and investment efforts are under way to commercialise the extraction of native plant extracts for food ingredients, medicinal purposes and skin-care products, and to extend the range of secondary crops that can be grown within the forest estate.


Total tourism and recreational spending amounted to $23.8 billion in the March 2014 year, of which international visitors contributed $10.3 billion and domestic visitors $13.4 billion. Total tourism expenditure increased 77 percent (in nominal terms) in the 15 years from 1999. In 1999, tourism expenditure stood at $13.4 billion. This figure increased steadily during the early 2000s and reached $22.1 billion in 2008.

The growth in tourism expenditure over the past 15 years has been driven by overseas visitor numbers. Short-stay visitor numbers have climbed 81 percent over this period, from 1.52 million in the March 1999 year to 2.75 million in the March 2014 year.

Honey exports have been growing progressively over the past decade and reached 8000 tonnes in the 2012/13 season.

In 2008, the merino– possum yarn and fashion sector was estimated to be worth $50 to $70 million per annum, and a 2010 estimate put turnover at $100 million per annum.

Commercial hunters harvested between 10 000 and 30 000 feral deer per annum during the 1990s and the early 2000s. Numbers fell away in 2002 and 2003, with a fall in venison prices and a tightening of export controls. Commercial hunting remains at relatively low levels and could be described as a niche industry.

Earnings from the game estate and guided hunting industry were estimated to be worth $15 million to $20 million per annum in the 2000 to 2005 period. More recent estimates of earnings are in the vicinity of $25 million per annum.

Exports of sphagnum moss during the 1990s ranged between $13 million and $18 million per annum but have declined in the past decade. Exports fell to $9 million in the June 2007 year and have been in the range of $3.9 million to $4.5 million since 2011.

Trend Status

Data Quality L

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