During the 1970s oil crisis, it became clear that if trapped within a city environment, the ability to survive without fossil fuels would create difficulties.
As Fluidyne had
begun to develop wood gasification equipment, it was also necessary to learn
about the realities of growing wood. Doug and family bought 10 acres of marginal
farmland in 1978 to begin the learning curve, which continues to this day.
The plan was to plant eucalyptus and coppice every seven years, and according to the New Zealand Forestry Department, this small plantation was the first purpose planted energy plantation in New Zealand. They even borrowed a few trees to cut down for a T.V. Programme, so if nothing else, this plantation has served a useful purpose of education for they still stand today.
Our pine trees are planted as boundary windbreaks and at 100 ft have now reached the end of their stability. It is unlikely that any will be milled as it costs more than you can recover from treating and selling the timber. We do have a more recent planting of 300 pines which are being pruned to clear wood.
The back of the farm has a reserved block of native forest regenerating from Kauri timber cutting early in the 1900s, We have also shut off adjacent areas to keep stock out and it is regenerating the native species. New Zealand natural forests link back to the earliest plants before the continents separated, and its a very tough eco-system, that is until you start trampling the surface feeder roots.
No native animals trod the forest floor until introduced by early explorers
|Regeneration of New Zealand native forests usually begins with this hardwood manuka tree showering hair like seeds which germinate on the surface of bare clay soils. Grass, ferns, then other natives germinate, often from seeds dormant for untold years. Manuka is renowned for its honey producing pollen and the healing properties of "Tea Tree Oil" distilled from the leaves. It is also New Zealand's most sought after firewood, but at 20 years old this tree isn't much of a resource.|
|Fighting for light, this boundary of native forest has an amazing number of plant and tree species. These forests thrive on the very geologically young clay soil of New Zealand.|
|Under the canopy of the forest is very dark and our flash hides the background trees. This is the famous New Zealand Kauri about 200 years old, and this butt log is parallel up to the first branch at 50 ft.|
|The largest Kauri in the block is still only a small tree and will continue to grow (maybe) for another 1 – 1.5 thousand years.|
|Replacing or complimenting native forests with species more receptive to growing conditions is a reality, and these 100 ft eucalypts at 22 years old provide options for the grower and the environment.|
|Shelter belts of New Zealand's super pine Pinus Radiata. Another example of 22 year old 100 ft trees. The measurements were obtained give or take a bit from recently felled trees.|
|At 6 years old, we are pruning this plantation for clear wood. The best will be selected and the rest thinned to firewood.|
|Doug ponders the future of biomass transport and his conclusion is that it needs a financial push!|
|What goes up must eventually come down|