Agroforesters needed in NZ? (Was: Re: [Scoop] Scientists Refute Government Spin-Campaign)

John Cawston rewarewa at
Sun Feb 6 02:55:47 EST 2000

Brian Sandle wrote:

> In bionet.agroforestry Owen McShane <omcshane at> wrote:
> : Brian Sandle wrote:
> :> But here is one of the questions from the exam paper:
> :> "The average NZ farmer is indifferent towards forestry. What are the
> :> major reasons why this is the case and why do they have so few commercial
> :> plantations on their farms?"
> : Many are not but are encouraged to be. A near neighbour of mine bought a
> : farm about twenty years ago and went to great lenghts to encourage and
> : manage the totara which grows quite quickly. Then the government banned
> : exports of native timber and rendered it all of no value overnight.
> Though it could be exported as made up products, keeping employment up in
> New Zealand?

I've warned Officials about this. They are getting close to a "restraint of
trade" in defining legislation in a way that looks like an employment protector.

> As Chris Perley said, the low amount to be paid to the government for
> trees being felled on public land has meant the selling price has been
> low. So private owners could not make much per tree. A large volume of
> production from private land would have occured to get any money in. So
> stopping exporting of native logs was the way used to regulate that, I
> suppose?

Again, I've spoken to Officials about that. If you cannot freely export logs and
unfinished timber, you cannot establish a true market price for the timber.
Right now, rimu is competing with radiata in price for flooring. Thats fucking

> What other means do you suggest? Chris seems to imply a need for
> the government to charge more per tree. The conundrum then, of course,
> is that Timberlands' profit equation would have to have been reworked. At
> one point he said $500 per tonne could be achieved.

Sounds too high to me. I would have thought that was more a rimu price

> But I don't htink
> that would be for beech on average. C.Bassett, Director of Research, NZ
> Forest Service, said in 1981 that about 80% or more of beech wood volume is
> unsuitable for sawn timber.

Newer technology should be considered here. But, as usual, if the price is
right, you can solve most issues:)

>  So
> : now it just grows into a tangles mass the way they do if not managed.
> I wonder how the ecology of that compares to natural forest.
> Recently I was looking at an early painting of milling of a kauri forest.
> The trees seemed to be very even and straight. They had not been managed.

500 -1000 years sorts out a few problems!

> : Many New Zealand species grow quite quickly during their adolescent
> : phase to beat the moa then a gene switches them to slow growth once
> : their canopy is above three metres. A plant geneticist told me he was
> : confident that with a few years work he could turn many of our natives
> : into high valuable rapid maturtion crops – and kauri was the first that
> : came to mind.
> Though there would not be the immediate food risk to humans from tree
> genetic modification, the CaMV promoters & what not would be injested by
> native creatures, and who knows what would happen.
> I don't remember which species, but I read that fast maturation of
> certain trees which can occur in other countries' conditions means the
> timber will not be so dense.

That is true of radiata here. But not oak, which is heavier and more dense here
than in Britain. Also, temperature has an influence. Radiata is much more dense
in Northland and the North Island coasts than inland or further down the South


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