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Location, location and location

From New Zealand Tree grower August 2015

Included on one of the farm visits at this year’s well organised conference in Whangarei was an excellent presentation by Scion’s Graham West. Graham had collated data of nett returns from 84 woodlot harvests in the North Island. Returns ranged from a high of $75,000 to a low of $5,000 per hectare. The average return for a harvested hectare was $20,300 and the average felled stand measured 14 hectares. The top return came from a high yielding stand grown on to age 28 years producing 800 tonnes a hectare of well pruned trees which were only a short distance from the market. This was combined with low cost ground based harvesting and peak prices. As Graham said in his presentation that the most important financial determinate in all of these were location, location and location.

Graham would like to continue this work to help woodlot owners benchmark their own returns and promote real returns to land owners. Too often, farmers only hear of the low returns from poorly located woodlots and little on the good examples where livestock and trees are compared on the same quality of land. However, this data was difficult to obtain and involves trust on the landowner’s part.

Graham has asked if woodlot owners and agents could supply stand and financial data information so that the collated material could be more soundly based and more analysis could be run. Graham has assured me that all data supplied will be kept strictly confidential and that it will never be published in a form that could identify a supplier. Graham’s contact details are Graham West, Scion, Private Bag 3020, Rotorua, Phone 07 3435674, Mobile 027 4410355, or email

Graham also told us that Scion has developed a series of forest management calculators, the most recent of which is MyLand. It was especially developed for sustainable land use and attempts to evaluate the whole property in terms of cash flow, yields, and environment. Although the software is available free, Graham was most disappointed that he had been unable to complete it due to a lack of funding for this more holistic land use approach.

Apart from even knowing of its existence, one reason for this lack of uptake is the difficulty of access with Apple computers. I am moderately computer literate on my Apple computer but I did not find access at all easy.

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Disclaimer: Personal views expressed in this blog are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the NZ Farm Forestry Association.

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