NZ forest harvest volumes fall in 2015 for first time in 7 years

21 March 2015

New Zealand forest harvest volumes declined in 2015 for the first time in seven years as uncertainty about future prices prompted plantation owners to hold back from felling their trees.

The country harvested 38,896,354 cubic metres of wood, mostly radiata pine, last year, 3 percent less than in 2014 and marking the first decline since 2008, AgriHQ said, citing data from the Ministry for Primary Industries. The value of wood exports, New Zealand's third-largest commodity export behind dairy and meat, slid 4.1 percent last year to $3.52 billion, according to Statistics NZ data.

Forest owners generally harvest their trees at between 25 and 30 years old, giving them flexibility to cut trees when prices seem most favourable. While large forest owners tend to harvest continuously, smaller forestry owners are more price sensitive and stepped up production in 2014 to take advantage of record prices then held off in 2015 as the outlook softened, AgriHQ said.

While prices in the domestic market have remained well supported by the rebuilding of earthquake-damaged Christchurch and growth in Auckland, demand in China, the country's largest export market, has been flat with local export returns held up by lower shipping rates and a decline in the kiwi dollar, Handley said.

Story by Tina Morrison, BusinessDesk © Scoop Media. To read the full story >>