TŌTARA IN NORTHLAND
Tōtara grows throughout the Northland region, particularly in hill-country areas that have been cleared in the past for farming. Tōtara regenerates freely in disturbed environments. It is so successful that many landowners in the region view it as weed.
Regenerating farm-tōtara is fast growing. The average age of trees we harvested from a farm in Kaeo was 85 years old. However, faster growth is possible with good forest management.
Our tōtara has been selectively harvested from private farms in Northland. It is not from old-growth native bush or conservation areas. It has regrown naturally on land that has been cleared in the past. Because tōtara is resistant to livestock grazing, it is now common on many farms, developing into a new resource in Northland and in other regions too.
A successful tōtara industry that brings jobs, will encourage the planting of new stands of tōtara and increase the area of native forest on private land. We envisage more tōtara appearing in the landscape, rather than less.
We harvest only single stems or small groups of trees (3-5). This is called continuous cover forestry. Most of the forest area remains untouched. There is no clear-felling.
Stands of tōtara are often in paddocks. Trees can be felled out into paddocks in many cases or are close enough to be winched out from the edge without machinery needing to enter the forest. Careful directional felling avoids damage to the remaining trees. Harvesting targets poorer trees and leaves the best trees standing to grow on for the future.
The volume removed is less than the growth-rate of the forest. A healthy forest structure is maintained by careful tree selection and low-impact harvesting. The average age of the harvested trees is 85 years, but they range between 50 and 120 years old.
The Forest Act applies to the harvesting and milling of native timber and requires it to be done sustainably. Special Sustainable Forest Management Permits and Plans are required. These are controlled by the New Zealand government through Te Uru Rākau (Forestry NZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries. The Department of Conservation also comments on all permit applications. Forests and harvests are inspected by Te Uru Rākau.