A forest strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand

We’re looking at how to harness the collective vision of New Zealanders to cultivate the forests of the future. To do this, we’re developing a Forest Strategy that will guide us over the next 30 years, and beyond.


The Forest Strategy will help realise the full value of forests and trees, and help build an environmentally sustainable, resilient, and prosperous society.

To be effective, the strategy must reflect the voices of New Zealanders and their aspirations for future generations. That’s why we’re taking a collaborative approach in the strategy development – and we want people across the forest system to be part of the conversation.

Once drafted, the strategy will set out a vision and a roadmap for getting there. It will prioritise the actions that need to be taken over the next 30 years, and beyond.

Why a forest strategy?

For generations, trees and forests have been a vital part New Zealand’s economy and cultural identity.

Trees and forests contribute to export earnings, employment, and regional development, as well as having distinct environmental benefits. Forest products are New Zealand's third-largest export earner, behind dairy and meat. These exports are worth around $6 billion a year.

The bush also has a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders. Outside of the economic and environmental importance of forests, they are places for recreation, reconnection with ancestral lands, and spiritual sustenance.

As the world moves away from dependence on fossil fuels towards a more sustainable economy, forests will become even more important as a major producer of sustainable and renewable timber, fibre, and energy for New Zealand.

To this end, the government has identified forestry as a key area for development that can help New Zealand transition to a low-emissions economy and support regional economic development.

Find out more about the One Billion Trees Programme

Find out about our other initiatives

Focus of the Forest Strategy

We aim to develop an innovative Forest Strategy that:

  • supports forest-related industries and activities
  • grows the role of forests and trees in improving the social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of New Zealanders.

We want the strategy to reflect New Zealanders’ long-term and broad aspirations for forests and trees, and establish a sector-wide course of action for achieving these. It’ll set out:

  • a common vision
  • a roadmap for getting there
  • a shared understanding of priorities
  • areas for action in the short, medium, and long term
  • clarity around the roles and responsibilities to deliver the action
  • ways in which participants can work better together.

Digging into the detail

We’re keeping an open view of what aspects of forestry and the forest sector that the strategy will cover. It’s a complex sector, with a range of groups and professional organisations with different interests.

To get a good overview of the forest system in New Zealand, we are interested in understanding:

  • the range of forest environments
  • the interactions between different types of forests and trees
  • key sector participants
  • their areas of interest.

We will likely include:

  • environmental issues and climate change
  • carbon forestry and carbon markets
  • commercial plantation forestry (like pine)
  • native forests for conservation, biodiversity, restoring landscapes, timber, and other products (such as honey)
  • the energy created from and by forestry (including biofuels and process heat)
  • wood processing, including timber and non-timber products
  • urban and farm forests, forests for recreation and cultural pursuits
  • the sectors that support forestry (like labour and skills, research and science, and infrastructure and logistics).

The Forest Strategy will look at all forest types, from permanent forests to rural forests and trees, urban trees, and commercial plantations. It will not include trees in private gardens, orchards, protected native forests, or conservation areas managed by the Department of Conservation.

Strategy development process

Te Uru Rākau is using a collaborative approach to develop the Forest Strategy. Since we kicked off the development process earlier in 2019, we have travelled around the country having in-depth one-on-one conversations with people with a wide range of interests – including sawmillers, farmers, scientists, conservationists, Māori leaders, and forestry CEOs. We have also established a Māori advisory group to guide our engagement with Māori and ensure their perspectives are properly considered and incorporated, both into the strategy and during its implementation.


In November and December 2019, Te Uru Rākau facilitated small, targeted workshops in Nelson, Rotorua, Whangarei and Gisborne. We invited people who represented a range of views so that we could get lots of diverse perspectives on issues of importance to them and the potential solutions that should be covered in the strategy. Some distinct key themes have emerged from these workshops so far.

We’ve heard concerns about fragmented sector leadership, threats to biosecurity, how to build the future workforce, and barriers to investment and innovation. Workshop participants have brainstormed ideas including around how to:

  • build a stronger brand for forestry
  • incentivise green energy
  • develop spatial tools to get the right trees in the right places
  • get more alternative species into the ground
  • encourage the use of more wood in construction.

We’ll be scoping these ideas in more detail before we work them up as part of the strategy.

Next steps

Following this first round of early engagement we will write a draft strategy, and plan to hold another round of engagement with the sector and the public on this in early 2020.

After that, we’ll be bringing together everything we heard to draft the final Forest Strategy, which we expect will be launched later in 2020.

More information about the programme of work and key dates will be released in early 2020.

Get in touch

If you want to get in touch with about the Forest Strategy, or to be added to our mailing list so you can keep in touch with what’s happening, email us: foreststrategy@mpi.govt.nz

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