New gum forest opportunity for the Wairarapa
The gum tree option
The opportunity has been created to develop a new forest industry in the Wairarapa – gum trees. Much of eastern New Zealand has low rainfall (600 – 1,000 mm per year) rainfall which is likely to become less predictable as the impacts of climate change manifest themselves. The promoters say their select eucalypts provide drylands farmers with an opportunity to grow a valuable, versatile ground-durable timber crop on a relatively short rotation.
These gum trees are an alternative to radiata pine and do not need to be treated with environmentally damaging wood preservatives before being used as, for example cross bars of power poles, vineyard posts, and railway sleepers. They can also be used for laminated veneer lumber (LVL) which is a product already produced by Juken New Zealand in their Masterton processing plant. National and international markets for these eucalypt products have been identified as being diverse, high value and sustainable.
The organisation, New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative (NZDFI), is creating the opportunity by calling for public comment from interested parties, who might range from land owners to wood processors. One public comment may be that there is the possibility of potential fire danger. The opportunity is consistent with the government’s initiative to plant 1 billion trees over the next ten years, led by New Zealand First regional economic development minister Shane Jones. The NZ Government is very keen to encourage and support new forest planting at a national level and this is an opportunity from which the Wairarapa could benefit. Durable eucalypts will confer numerous environmental benefits, including a reduction in the use of CCA-treated timber, provision of nectar and pollen for bees and birds, carbon sequestration, and soil erosion control.
The opportunity not only calls for private sector involvement it also suggests that private/public participation is an option. Wellington regional council is likely to be consulted for feedback on the plans.
There are other opportunities for forest industries for the Wairarapa which readers might introduce through Talking Business.