Durable eucalypts in Hawke's Bay: information for growers

NZDFI believes parts of Hawke's Bay Region are ideally suited for growing durable eucalypts and developing associated regional hardwood industries. With it's frequent very hot, dry summers, and large areas of erodible soil types, Hawke's Bay presents a huge opportunity for NZDFI's robust, drought-tolerant species as part of a mixed, diversified pastoral land-use and forestry industry. 

A wood-supply catchment approach

While the Hawke's Bay has many areas well-suited to growing durable eucalypts, our initial vision is for a sustainable hardwood industry centred on a small-to-medium processing operation in Wairoa. The operation could be located on industrial land to the north of the river, where there is an existing sawmill.

For an economically viable, sustainable processing operation, an estimated 5,000 hectares of durable eucalypts will need to be planted over the next 30 years, to generate an average annual harvest of 50,000 tonnes of resource for the mill*. This equates to around 170 ha/year of new planting for 30 years.

There are over 175,000 hectares of farmland in Land Use Capability (LUC) classes 5-7 within a 40km radius of Wairoa, plus a further 60,000+ hectares of forestry plantations. The map below shows where the 40km indicative catchment boundary lies.

Around 2.1% of the total land area identified as having potential needs to be converted to durable eucalypts to sustainably supply a small-to medium processing operation.

(* Data based on modelling done by Scion using the Woodscape model, 2020)

 

Suitable land in Wairoa wood-supply catchment:

LUC 6                                 119,898 ha

LUC 7                                   55,217 ha

Plantation                           60,911 ha

Total suitable land:           235,926 ha

 

  • Proposed total area of new planting:  5,000 ha
  • Proposed new durable hardwood forest:  2.1% of suitable land
  • New planting for 30 yrs: 170 ha/year

Map: Developing a sustainable durable hardwood industry in Hawke's Bay: proposed wood supply catchment centred on Wairoa, northern Hawke's Bay (click to enlarge).

Why Hawke's Bay?

The Hawke's Bay Region has a strong tradition of mixed land use, including plantation forests and farm-scale woodlots. There is good potential for durable eucalypts as a diversification option, especially on drier soil types where pastoral farming may be challenging. The region has the following advantages in terms of its suitability for a sustainable hardwood industry:

  • a thriving forest industry, including several timber processors and good forestry infrastructure
  • rail links and a busy port
  • over 5,000 hectares of vineyards, and almost 5,000 ha of pipfruit - likely to generate a strong demand for durable posts, poles and other durable timber infrastructure
  • a climate which is generally summer dry, with frequent droughts making pastoral farming challenging on the drier land types
  • extensive areas of erodible land types, where afforestation of some sort may be a sensible land-use alternative.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council is pro-active in encouraging new land-use alternatives, partly for economic development but also to reduce the risk of  soil erosion on steep land.

 

Working in partnership with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council

The HBRC and Hawkes Bay Regional Development Company (HBRIC) have recently supported several studies reviewing the potential for 'the right trees in the right place' in Hawke's Bay. The potential for alternatives to radiata pine has been reviewed; also a report by Scion using the 'Woodscape' model has assessed the feasibility for a non-radiata wood-processing facility in Wairoa District based on regional planting.

We have used the Woodscape report as the basis for our wood-supply catchment calculations.

The NZDFI is collaborating closely with the HBRC Land Management team. As well as working on the opportunities for durable eucalypts, NZDFI and HBRC have worked together on two related projects:

  1. developing new mapping techniques to better describe the alternative species resource (working with GIS specialists at the University of Canterbury School of Forestry)
  2. encouraging the development of the small-scale sawmilling sector.

Resources for Hawke's Bay growers

Hawke's Bay landowners interested in learning more about durable eucalypts can find more information as follows:

  • Contact your Land Management Adviser or any member of the Regional Council's Land Management Team. They can provide information and advice on:
    • choice of regime and developing a planting plan
    • choice of species - the NZDFI already has five established trials in Hawke's Bay, including a large trial site at HBRC's Waihapua demonstration forest north of Napier. Regional Council Land Management Advisers, or your forestry consultant, should be able to advise on how different species are performing on a range of Hawke's Bay sites
    • grants/financial and practical assistance available.
  • Have a look through other sections in our Guidelines for Growers
  • Visit the Te Uru Rakau website for more information about One Billion Trees planting grant (although the fund is fully subscribed for 2021).