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A bit more forest area but less pruning

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) recently released the 2012 annual National Exotic Forest Description (NEFD) report. This report describes the area and compostion of New Zealand's planted production forests.

Key highlights are –

  • Total exotic forest area is estimated to be 1.78 million hectares (up a little on last year).
  • An estimated 12,000 hectares of new forest planting in 2011 (forest planted on land previously not in forest).
  • An estimated 18,500 hectares of new forest planting in 2012 (forest planted on land previously not in forest).
  • High levels of deforestation and conversion to farming due to the very low price of carbon; this will probably result in only a modest net increase in forest area in 2012.
  • 58% (899,000 hectares) of forest planted in the main species Radiata pine is being pruned. This is down from 67% 10 years ago. This will be mainly driven by the decline in the average pruned log premium. Based on MPI's published quarterly log prices, PF Olsen estimates that the premium for top grade pruned logs over top grade unpruned logs has fallen from $115/m³ to $40/m³ in the past 10 years.

Due to the very low carbon price, very little new planting is expected in 2013 and it is likely that New Zealand will experience a net loss of production forest area due to a resurgence of deforestation and conversion to farming.