Strategic planning tools – forest investment finder


  • Central and regional government recognise and seek to promote afforestation on marginal land for erosion, carbon, water quality and economic benefits. However forestry is not economic on much of this land.
  • Forest investors and policy makers need a mechanism to strategically identify where afforestation will be economic (as a pure commercial forestry venture) and where it can also deliver ecosystem services that meet local, regional, or national needs.
  • Managers of existing forests need spatial tools to assess scenarios that evaluate how changes in their management practices influence economic performance and delivery of a variety of ecosystem services. This information will inform decisions around land use change and policies that affect forest growers, and regional economies and infrastructure.

Potential benefits

The value of avoided erosion from afforestation of 2.4 million ha of erodible hill country is in the order of NZ $2.1 billion.

Afforesting only those regions with high erosion (1.2 m ha) achieves ~85% (NZ$1.8bn) of the avoided erosion value.

Afforesting the region with the highest erosion (0.2 m ha ~ 8% of the total area) achieves about 50% (NZ$1.1billion) of the avoided erosion value.

The same approach could be used to demonstrate the contribution of existing forests to the wider sustainability of New Zealand.


A planning tool has been developed known as Forest Investment Finder (FIF).

The tool focuses on future forest scenarios for land with low economic productivity and slight to extreme erosion risk.

These areas could provide high environmental benefits to NZ from afforestation, avoided soil erosion, biodiversity, improved water quality and carbon sequestration.

The cost of this research project was $320 k over four years.


FIF supports strategic planning. It could be used to:

  • Evaluate radiata pine forestry regimes, harvesting systems, and product price scenarios for both existing estates and new forests.
  • Investigate the economics and environmental benefits of new forest species planted on marginal lands; the total value of environmental benefits from current forest estates; and to quantify the level of payment needed to drive afforestation for a range of ecosystem services.


FIF will enable identification of regions across New Zealand where it would or would not be viable to purchase land and convert to forestry. The tool will support policy decisions and strategic planning on the economics of forestry scenarios and the value of ecosystem services provided by the forests.

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