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

Owen McShane omcshane at
Sun Feb 6 04:46:50 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?
> 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? 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. 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.
>  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.
> : 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.
> Besides the limitation of the growing rate can depend on the limitation of
> light. Beech grows faster if light is there. That is why the plan for
> `sustainable management' of beech required improvement felling. Two trees
> are felled for every one which goes to the mill. `Sustainable' means that
> the same proportion of species is to be kept. In the Amazon region,
> mahogany is supposed to be maintained sustainably. In order to get it to
> grow a lot of surrounding forest is cleared, with loss of biodiversity.
> It is claimed (Scientific American April 1997, pp 34-39 {though Sci &
> Tech Abstracts gives 42-49}) that low impact logging rather than
> sustainable would be preferable if mahogany has to be taken. Lose the
> mahogany rather than a lot extra.
> Did your geneticist know about growth rate in more open conditions such
> as may be seen in certain types of agroforestry where more light may be
> available? one of the factors in agroforestry is managemenmt of light -
> on to pasture, too, for whose growth it is also necessary.
Brian, people like you always have a reason to do nothing.
Try reading "The Future and its Enemies" by Virginia Postrel.
You would have persuaded the Court not to support Columbus trying to
find the Indies and you would have against the Beage and against Captain
Cook because there is always a reason that ventures will never succeed.
You should really be in banking.
Owen McShane
Kaiwaka, Northland, New Zealand.
Publisher of Straight Thinking Magazine

More information about the Ag-forst mailing list