7 May 2012

Eucalypt forestry advocates eye Maori lands

9:09 pm on 7 May 2012

Many Maori communities could benefit from the development of a durable timber industry in New Zealand, according to the Dryland Forests Initiative.

A cross-sector research and development project, the initiative wants to have several species of eucalypt planted on pastoral land which is prone to drought or erosion.

Initiative chairman Shaf van Ballekom says stands of eucalypt could provide another income stream for Maori-owned farms, many of which are sited in drier parts of the country.

A lot of iwi-owned land - especially north of Gisborne - would be suitable for plantations of eucalypts instead of radiata pine.

Timber from some gum trees can be used to make hardwood posts which do not need to be chemically treated, Mr van Ballekom says.

Some overseas-owned eucalypt forests already exist in Southland and near Tauranga for production of high-quality pulp used in fine white papers such as for photocopiers.

Dryland Forests Initiative advocates hope to work with the Ministry of Primary Industries new Maori sector partnership to promote planting of eucalypts.