The social & economic implications of alternative land uses involving pastoral farming and forestry in Northland : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Natural Resource and Environmental Economics at Massey University
This thesis is a scenario study which examines the social and economic impacts of different types of forestry being established in an area of pastoral farmland in Northland, New Zealand. Detailed production, income, expenditure, employment and demographic data was collected from 57 of the 59 farms in the study area. This included expenditure direction data. Those businesses and schools which supported, and were in turn supported by, the study area farms were interviewed to find out the importance of these farms to their continued operation. This pastoral farming scenario is then compared with four forestry scenarios - two conventional forestry scenarios, plus a woodlot and finally an agroforestry scenario. In the first conventional forestry scenario all the study area farms (15,000 hectares) are planted in exotics and in the second about 3,000 hectares are planted. With the two farm forestry scenarios about 1,000 hectares are planted. In the first conventional forestry scenario forestry replaces pastoral farming, while in the second and the farm forestry scenarios pastoral farming and forestry are integrated. Variable results resulted from the comparison, with expenditure comparisons very sensitive to the time harvesting commences, the amount cut and the time span of the scenarios. (Thirty-five years.) These comparisons were also sensitive to the locality in which farming and forestry expenditure were being compared. Forestry expenditure would be markedly higher than farming expenditure once harvesting commenced. But farming has higher backward linkage multipliers and unless forestry processing plants are established, the conventional forestry developments in the scenarios imply a relative decline in regional incomes and employment. If forestry processing plants are established, an increase in regional incomes and employment is implied. Woodlot and agroforestry generally imply an increase in expenditure and employment without the drop in agricultural spending associated with conventional forestry activities on former pastoral farmland. Conventional forestry would result in disruption to the existing social structure. It may result in a long term population decline, but it is likely many ex-farm houses would be re-occupied. Woodlot and agroforestry would strengthen the existing social and economic structure. It is concluded that the Northland United Council's interest and concern about the afforestation of pastoral farmland is justified. However, the rural decline, the corporatisation of government departments, plus the impacts of forestry harvesting and wood processing are considered to be of more importance in the establishment of regional planning priorities.