A report on alternative plantation forest species is now available on the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association website.

It details the characteristics of a wide variety of tree species suited to steep, erosion-prone land which have root structures that may better resist landsliding after harvest.

The report was written by Dean Satchell, of Sustainable Forest Solutions. Farm Forestry Association president Neil Cullen said land and forest managers were lacking information for steep, erosion-prone terrain.

"This report identifies the considerable amount of research still required, but does go a long way to providing guidance on the options for land owners preparing resource consent applications to plant or replant land now zoned Red under the new National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF)," Mr Cullen said.


Owners of red-zoned land who wished to clear-fell needed to give regional councils evidence that significant adverse environmental effects could be minimised, and should consider replanting erosion-mitigating cover.

"This report provides information on best practice, identifies the gaps in knowledge, and sets the scope for the future to improve environmental outcomes from plantation forestry on steep lands," he said.

"We need more forests on steep hill country to mitigate erosion where pastoral cover isn't enough. However, we need the right species, the right rotation lengths and the right harvesting strategies for the best environmental outcomes.

"Forestry is the best land use for erodible hill country, but best practice changes over time to meet the expectations of society and increasing severity of storms."

An intense downpour that hit recently harvested and replanted sites at Tolaga Bay resulted in slash movement that made headlines, and has damaged the forest industry's social licence to operate.

"This report lists a variety of alternative species available that could drive different harvest practices and improve environmental outcomes. It's up to industry to be proactive and adjust their practices to reflect what society requires.

"It suggests that alternative regimes and/or species will be required now, which will accumulate evidence over time that significant adverse environmental effects can be minimised with best practice."

Forest Owners' Association president Peter Weir said the report was timely, as experts looked for effective ways to build more resilient forests and communities. The report is at www.nzffa.org.nz