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Growing demand for native trees needs co-ordinated strategy

New Zealand’s native plant nursery industry has capacity to increase native tree production, but long lead times mean achieving this growth will require planning and co-operation. Last year NZ Plant Producers Inc. surveyed native plant nurseries up and down New Zealand, in the first-ever survey of the native nursery sector and its capacity and potential. Source: Timberbiz

The survey found New Zealand grows more than 10 million native plant seedling each year, with private businesses making up 88% of the total production.

Achieving the One Billion Trees target of 200+ million native trees will require extraordinary growth, needing a planned growth strategy and Government support for private businesses, organisations, and training agencies.

This planned growth must recognise the significant contribution that small and medium nurseries make to native tree production. It is also important to support nurseries in all regions, to produce trees suitable for local environments.

  • New Zealand produced 10.6 million native tree seedlings in 2018.
  • The One Billion Trees program has a target of planting 200+ million trees over 10 years. This requires sustained annual growth of 14% from current production.
  • Trees account for 27% of the native seedlings produced, the others are grasses, flaxes and shrubs. While tree targets could be met by reducing production of non-tree species, this is unlikely given the continued demand for riparian, revegetation, and other non-tree plantings.
  • The industry can sustainably grow at about 7.5% per year. Greater growth will place undesirable stresses on individual businesses, with debt, reduced profitability, and skills shortages.
  • This sustained growth (7.5%pa) would allow New Zealand to produce 160 million native trees over the next decade.

The Native Nurseries Survey was commissioned by Te Uru Rākau through its partnership fund. The research includes all native plant nurseries – commercial, non-profit, government, councils, Iwi. Download a copy