Aratu Forests builds in-house silviculture team


Aratu Forests, an Australia New Zealand Forest Fund 3 (ANZFF3) portfolio company, manages one of the largest forestry estates in the Gisborne District of New Zealand’s North Island, managing around 27,000 hectares of Radiata pine plantation. Forestry in New Zealand typically uses contract labour for planting and harvesting, but Aratu is bucking the trend with an in-house silviculture team, which is focused on tree-thinning.

Key Initiative

Tree-thinning is the removal of low-quality trees or portions of trees to promote forest health. Thinning events can improve the quality and growth of the trees that remain and can salvage trees that may die before the final harvest.

The decision to establish the now five-person team was prompted by a shortage of silviculture contract workers and high contracting costs. After a successful six-month trial, during which workers were paid a salary and provided with necessary equipment, the team was made permanent in 2022.


The benefits of bringing the thinning work in-house are many. As permanent staff, the silviculture workers now have greater job security and employment benefits, including a production-based incentive scheme. At the same time, Aratu Forests now has a reliable supply of labour, with a highly motivated team that is exceeding production and quality expectations. Overall, this approach reduces risks for the business, the silvicultural activity and, importantly, the thinning crew.

Delivering on Sustainable Development Goals

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