We offer the opportunity for visitors to learn more about the Southern Hemisphere. Please note that this page isn’t able to provide you with an education or in-depth reports. Send us your query and we will post it, along with a reply. Please limit queries to 50 words.

Q. Which is the fastest growing area in NZ for harvesting & marketing logs & other timber products? How long does it take a pine tree to grow to maturity ready for cutting?"

Rose A. New, fast growing areas of plantation forests are popping up all over New Zealand now as new forests come to maturity. The region recognised as being the fastest growing is the area covering the East Coast of the North Island and down through Hawke's Bay. The difficulty the East Coast faces is that it's a relatively isolated region, so new investment in processing is proving difficult to attract. The Deputy Prime Minister, Jim Anderton, is spearheading an initiative to bolster infrastructure and investment in the region.

There are two main types of trees grown in the Southern Hemisphere plantations. These are mostly pine and eucalypts. The pines are softwoods that are grown mainly for timber purposes, with extra wood going to pulping for papermaking. The eucalypts are hardwoods and are mainly growing for good quality pulp. The pines are grown to about 25-30 years. The eucalypts are grown to anything from 15-18 years. However, there are some variations depending on what the forest owners want to do with the logs. Mike

Q. How do you cut down trees" --- Jooles

A. This may seem like a simple question but it's not a silly one. Since the inception of the chainsaw in logging (or harvesting) operations, the main way of cutting trees down has been for gangs of (mostly) men to move through areas of forests marked for harvest. This has been seen as a good way of handling New Zealand's terrain. In other countries in the Northern Hemisphere, mechanical harvesting has been introduced. This method uses a machine to grab a tree, cut it and move it away. Mechanical harvesting methods are being introduced into New Zealand but it is difficult in terrain where there are ridges and gullies. Mechanical harvesting is being used increasingly in other Southern Hemisphere countries also, such as Australia and South Africa, where flatter land is planted. Mike

Q.What are carbon credits and why are they suddenly becoming the topic of lots of news items about forestry? -- Sue

A. Carbon credits are an offshoot of the whole climate change issue. The Kyoto Protocol that has been in the news recently, and is still to be ratified, is aimed at trying to combating the changes to the earth's climate. If the protocol is ratified, from the year 2008 industries that emit noxious gases will be required to control their emissions. A system of trading in carbon credits could be set up to enable high carbon dioxide emitters to purchase credits from owners of the so-called carbon "sinks". Activities like plantation forestry result in a net absorption of carbon dioxide. Another word for this is "sequestration". These activities should produce the "carbon credits". If the Kyoto Protocol is ratified, an international market will be established allowing carbon credits to be traded. This will allow tree owners to sell the credits to buyers who can use the credits to offset emissions.

Who owns the credits depends on who owns the forests. In most Southern Hemisphere countries this is pretty straight forward. However, in New Zealand, where the Crown owned much of the State forest plantations until the Government sold off cutting rights, there is an issue about who owns the rights to the pre-1990 forests. This has also raised the issue of whether Maori, as a partner to the Treaty of Waiting, should be involved in the process and have partial rights to any credits. Mike


A. Jim, good question. We've had the domain name www.southernhemisphereforestry.co.nz since the early nineties, operating on the Internet. Those were the days before whizzes came up with ideas like amazon.com for a book seller <<??>> rather than a river system; or flyingpig.co.nz for a bookshop. So we've kind of stuck with our name. How often you have to type in a web site domain name these days? We would hope that all you would have to do would be to go enter or click on selecting www.southernhemisphereforestry.co.nz and add it to your favourites. Nevertheless, stay tuned for new developments. Mike