4 Sep 2018

Growing exports of New Zealand Redwood for US market

11:14 am on 4 September 2018

New Zealand's forestry industry is growing Redwood timber for desperate buyers in California, who are not allowed to cut down their own trees.

Forest of redwood trees in California.

Redwood trees are protected in the United States, creating demand for the timber from New Zealand. Photo: AFP / Getty Images North America

About 8000 hectares of commercial Redwood, also called Sequoia, can be found in 14 locations, mostly in the North Island.

Many forests of Redwood, which is known for its appearance and weather resistance, date back 80 or 90 years.

Now, the New Zealand Redwood Company has won approval to buy 1148 hectares of farmland at Matiere, in South Waikato.

Despite its name, the New Zealand Redwood Company is United States owned, so it needed approval from the Overseas Investment Office before it could make its purchase.

The office said the land purchase would produce six full-time jobs a year for the forest's life.

The company's general manager, Simon Rapley, said the business had been here since 2001, planting an extra 100ha each year.

"Growth rates in New Zealand are significantly higher than they are in their native California," he said.

"California is a very dry part of the world and consequently trees grow a lot slower than they do in New Zealand."

Mr Rapley said the only significant market for Redwood was California and some other American states, but his company would work on developing markets in New Zealand, Australia and parts of Asia.

Sales to the US would be assisted by environmental rules there that made felling Redwoods difficult.

US rules stopped importation of raw logs, so Redwoods would be sawn here first, then exported as ready-to-use timber.

This was in contrast to the trade in radiata pine.

While 650 hectares of the Waikato purchases will be planted in Redwoods, the rest would be left as bush or farmland.

The first harvesting on the property would take place from 2035.

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