NZ has no logging industry that cuts down public native forests and yet employs 23,000 people, produces 11% of the country’s total exports being 4% of their GDP, has annual sales of $5 billion with $3.5 billion of that being exported.
New Zealand has one of the largest areas of protected natural forest in the world – nearly 6 million hectares.
Their plantations cover 1.8 million hectares. It’s important to note that New Zealand’s economy is about the same size as Victoria’s.
The cornerstone of the modern NZ logging industry is the New Zealand Forest Accord signed in 1991. This ties environmental and commercial interests and is a model unmatched elsewhere in the world. It includes the following key points:
- Defining areas inappropriate for plantation forestry.
- Valuing, protecting and conserving natural forests.
- Recognising the commercial importance of plantation forests
Plantation management is very intensive and no doubt has a few ecological problems, as all intensive agriculture does. This gives them quality logs in 25 years – that’s nearly 20 times faster than can be achieved in many Northern Hemisphere countries.
The current annual pine harvest is about 20 million cubic metres. This is expected to almost double by 2015. This means plantation wood is the country’s highest earning export commodity.