Wairakei Estate incorporates land parcels that were historically known as the Tahorakuri, Broadlands and Tauhara forests. Since the latter half of the 19th Century these parcels were managed as commercial plantation forests planted primarily in Radiata pine.
Forestry is an intrinsic part of the Estate’s sustainable land use approach as the volume of carbon being sequestered from the atmosphere by the forestry land is projected to significantly outweigh the equivalent emissions from the pastoral operations.
To date, 7,024ha of the Estate is in a commercial forestry land use, which by 2023 is planned to increase and remain at approximately 8,200ha.
Following the sale of these forests to Wairakei in 2004, the initial focus was to convert much of this forestry land into pastoral land. However, as the existing forestry crop was harvested and subsequent conversion operations have progressed, it became evident that forestry was more appropriate for some of the land.
To date, just over 200ha of pastoral land has been re-established back into production forestry with a further 1,314 ha planned to be done by 2022.
Most of the planted forestry land on the Estate is managed under single rotation ‘Forestry Right’ arrangements with two Timber Investment Management Organisations (TIMOS) – OTPP and New Forests. Both TIMOS are large international investors with a strong focus on sustainable land management practices and therefore engage the services of reputable management companies to manage their forestry portfolios.
In order to convert forestry land, Wairakei Pastoral must satisfy the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) obligations and since 2016 has used the Offset Planting method. This is where a hectare of new forest is planted for every hectare deforested. To date Wairakei Pastoral has planted 900ha of marginal steep hill country farmland in the Wairarapa in order to achieve this purpose.