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New Zealand has over 10 million hectares of forests making up 38% of our landmass, the majority of which is native and situated on protected conservation land. This may sound like a large amount but, when compared to more than 80% just 200 years ago, it is a significant decline.
In 1925, to protect what was left of declining native species, exports of native timber were restricted, and faster growing, exotic plantations were created.
These plantation forests now make up 6-7% of the landmass of New Zealand and, despite being smaller in size, are higher yielding than native forests, which make up more than 30%.
See the location and type of New Zealand forests here [Map PDF].
When it comes to protecting old growth forests and creating new plantations of natives, the key is providing for biodiversity and conserving New Zealand’s uniqueness.
Similarly, old growth forests overseas, such as stands of Western Red Cedar in Canada or tropical rainforest in Asia, Africa or South America, are important to these areas and should be protected for the good of the planet as a whole.
Importing old growth timbers from overseas for use in construction is not sustainable as these trees take hundreds of years to grow. It not only damages the forests they are harvested from but also has a huge carbon output due to the travel miles undertaken. Many of these timbers are also chemically treated for durability, which furthers their environmental impact.
Construction using locally grown plantation timber is a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly option that also feeds the local economy.
Abodo uses timbers harvested from FSC® certified rapidly renewable plantation forests and treats them for durability using thermal modification, which results in timbers that age well and do not require chemical treatments and excessive maintenance. The thermal modification process is also carried out locally, further reducing carbon output.
In Māori mythology, humans and forests are forever connected, having been formed by the same creator. This remains true for most New Zealanders, who see the forests as a taonga or treasure to be protected and respected for future generations to enjoy.
This is why it is so important to make good use of our local plantation timbers and reduce reliance on old growth forests for construction.
Construction is a huge polluter in Aotearoa but with careful specification and eco-friendly building techniques, we can turn this around and ensure the protection of our planet while also creating beautiful architecture.