Farmers and other landowners will learn about trees with the potential to grow more profit than radiata pines if they attend a field day at Kerikeri later this month.
Conducting the field day at the Horowai Trust 150ha plantation forest comprising radiata pine, durable eucalypts and cypress will be Dean Satchell, who recently received the North Island Husqvarna Farm Forester of the Year award.
Satchell, the immediate past president of NZ Farm Forestry Association, has a tree nursery at Kerikeri and is a consultant on sustainable land management who has been involved with the Horowai Trust since its inception over 20 years ago.
"The winners for me have been some species of durable eucalypt and cypresses. They grow fast and produce valuable timber, with ready markets. These species do not compete with radiata pine, but provide appearance timbers, with natural properties such as strength and durability."
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He is passionate about forestry and, in particular, high-value species and specialty timbers. Field day visitors will be guided through an innovative forest enterprise that operates outside the square. The focus will be on lessons learned during the pioneering journey toward high value timber production.
With the billion-trees project being undertaken by the Government, along with Northland Regional Council interest in more tree planting for environmental outcomes, especially on erodible land, Northland landowners are showing renewed interest in tree planting.
"This is an opportunity for then to see what's happening at the cutting edge," Satchell said.
Northland had a great environment for trees and high value species that did not grow in other regions of New Zealand could flourish in the North. Diversifying the region's forest estate presented an opportunity for economic growth in Northland, but it needed to be done right.
"It's all about getting the right tree species in the right location," Satchell said, explaining that genetic improvement over the past 50 years had focused on radiata pine and little knowledge was available to landowners about naturally durable and high-value "alternative" plantation forest species as an economic land use.
"I set about to change that 25 years ago with research trials and plantings aimed at improving our knowledge and providing options that are profitable land uses. The winners for me have been some species of durable eucalypt and cypresses. They grow fast and produce valuable timber, with ready markets. These species do not compete with radiata pine, but provide appearance timbers, with natural properties such as strength and durability."
The learning curve had not just been on selecting species, but also growing regimes customised to the species.
"Doing it wrong ends up a waste of time and money. I don't want to see the same mistakes I made repeated again and again. We need to collectively move forward and produce a plantation forest resource at the right scale to market at a premium. This means collective action."
The tour of the Horowai Trust forest at 759 Purerua Rd, Kerikeri, will begin at 10am on October 28. Visitors should take along stout footwear, lunch, raincoats if the weather is bad, and be aware the tour route passes near beehives.