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Durable eucalypts in Marlborough: information for growers

Marlborough is the home of the NZDFI, initially established because of the wine-growing industry's perceived need for an alternative to CCA-treated radiata pine posts and poles. This post and pole market, combined with high summer temperatures and very low summer rainfall in many regions, make Marlborough highly suited to growing drought-tolerant durable eucalypts as a land-use diversification and as the basis for a sustainable regional hardwood industry.

A wood-supply catchment approach

In Marlborough our  vision is for a sustainable hardwood industry to be centred on a small-to-medium sized processing operation based at Kaituna, near Blenheim.

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 170ha/yr for the next 30 years.

There are over 74,000 hectares of farmland in Land Use Capability (LUC) classes 5-7 within a 40km radius of Kaituna (excluding the recently designated Afforestation Flow Sensitive Areas, where new plantations are restricted), plus a further almost 65,000 hectares of forestry plantations.

5,000 hectares of new durable hardwood planting represents around 3.4% of this total land area.

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

Land areas in Marlborough wood-supply catchment:

LUC 5:                 526 ha

LUC 6:             53,845 ha

LUC 7:             20,898 ha

Plantation:     64,745 ha

Total area:     140,014 ha


  • Proposed total area for new planting:  5,000 ha
  • Target annual planting over 30 years:  110-160 ha
  • New eucalypt forest as % of total land area:  3.4%

Map: Developing a sustainable durable hardwood industry in Marlborough: proposed wood supply catchment centred on Kaituna, near Blenheim (click to enlarge). Note: This map will includes Marlboroughs new Afforestation Flow Sensitive Areas (Marlborough Environment Plan 2022).

Why Marlborough?

Marlborough now has over 30,000 hectares of vineyards, requiring over one million posts a year. The disposal of CCA-treated timber is a major environmental headache for vineyard owners and the Marlborough District Council. Durable eucalypt timbers require no chemical additives and can be chipped or used as firewood at the end of their lives; the timber is also much stronger than radiata pine, making it ideal for posts and poles for the vineyard industry.

Marlborough's advantages as a base for a regional hardwood industry include:

  • a massive potential market for posts and poles for local viticulture, horticulture and agriculture industries
  • large areas of land which is challenging to farm because of low annual rainfall and frequent summer droughts
  • a well-established forest industry with good infrastructure, and ports at Picton and Nelson
  • an innovative land-based research centre - the Marlborough Research Centre - which is an NZDFI partner.

The NZDFI is supported by Marlborough District Council, the Marlborough Research Centre, local landowners and a number of local businesses including Marlborough Lines. There are numerous NZDFI trials on a range of site-types in the Marlborough District, including some on very dry land.

A compelling case for the NZDFI - in Marlborough and beyond

Gerald Hope, Marlborough Research Centre Chief Executive, explains why the MRC has backed the NZDFI since its inception, and is highly optimistic about the future for durable hardwoods in New Zealand.

Resources for Marlborough growers

  • Watch our videos of Marlborough growers
  • Contact your local forestry consultant  They can provide information and advice on:
    • choice of regime and developing a planting plan
    • choice of species - the NZDFI has numerous trials in Marlborough, and your forestry consultant should be able to provide information on how different species are performing on a range of 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 grants