The Lake Rotoaira Forest Trust controls an area of 16,447 hectares, which is the area originally leased to the Crown for forestry (the Schedule 1 blocks). In addition, the Trust administers 1,260 hectares of land (Schedule 2 blocks) around the edges of Lake Rotoaira and 6,350 hectares of land (Schedule 3 blocks) along the Desert Road. These blocks are under the Trust for administrative purposes only and do not contribute to the Trust's forestry business.
Of the 16,447 hectares, 9,683 (59 per cent) have been afforested. Having 41 per cent unplanted is unusual in NZ plantations, and reflects the conservationand environmental protection desires of the owners and the Crown, which are embodied in the lease agreement.
The land was orignally leased to the Crown in 1973 for 70 years, enough to grow two rotations of pine trees. In 2002 the Crown's lease was changed to make it one rotation lease and as a result leased land is now returned to the Trust following the harvest of the first rotation crop. Consequently the Trust now owns 5,727 hectares of planted rotation forest. This represents 60 per cent of the total planted area in Lake Rotoaira Forest, with the Crown owning the remainder.
LAKE ROTOAIRA FOREST – AREAS BY AGE CLASS
Around 98 per cent of the forest is planted in Pinus radiata – the remaining 2 per cent is mainly Douglas fir, eucalyptus, and larch. Planting commenced in 1973 and was completed by 1989, while harvesting commenced in 1999. The radiata is managed to produce a high quality tree crop, and nearly all is pruned and thinned. The trees are grown on a 30 year rotation.
The forest is being harvested at a level of 190,000 m3 per annum, a rate which can be sustained indefinitely. The logs produced are sold to a wide range of mills, with between 20% and 25% being exported in log form.
Lake Rotoaira Forest is managed by NZ Forest Managers Ltd, a privately owned forest management company which undertakes contract management of forests. NZ Forest Managers is based in Turangi and has a long history with this forest. The Trust is happy to have this proactive and dynamic company looking after its investment.