New native forest planting at Battle Hill Farm Forest Park

A new native forest planting system is helping Greater Wellington Regional Council achieve its biodiversity and climate change goals.

Native Forest Systems, designed by Paekākāriki consultancy Groundtruth Ltd, is a leading-edge approach to landscape-scale forest and wetland restoration. Queen Elizabeth Park and Battle Hill Farm Forest Park have collectively had tens of thousands of natives planted in them in 2019 using this new approach.

A focus on quality means all seed is accurately eco-sourced by Groundtruth, and seedlings are monitored from sowing right up until the “free to grow” stage, where fledgling forests are signed off and left to continue growing.

Groundtruth has developed Native Forest Systems over the last seven years. This has included working collaboratively with Greater Wellington Regional Council trialling new systems in regional parks. The strong relationship between the two organisations has been critical to the success of this new system.

Greater Wellington Parks Portfolio Leader Prue Lamason says “Working together with Groundtruth has meant we can utilise their expertise and innovation to find ways to achieve large scale native forest restoration at reasonable cost”

By utilising techniques from large scale vegetable production, forestry planting and management and a comprehensive approach to records and monitoring, Native Forest Systems provides a high quality and efficient approach across large areas. A planting crew can establish several hectares of native forest in a day.

Groundtruth Managing Director Peter Handford says this is a real game changer, “Planting natives has been stuck in first gear for a long time now. The focus on quality for Native Forest Systems means we now have the potential to plant huge areas in natives at a realistic cost each year, with guaranteed forest a few years after that.”

On Wednesday 21 August Greater Wellington announced a package to tackle climate change with plans to accelerate reforestation planting in regional parks. Native Forest Systems makes these plans a reality.

In addition, the Governments One Billion Trees Programme (1BT) has allocated $120 million through the One Billion Trees Fund, of which two-thirds is targeted at planting natives. Native Forest Systems provides a way for this goal to be achieved.

Native Forest Systems matches planting mixes to particular sites and ecosystems, and mimics the natural development of a native forest, only much faster. Tracking of survival and growth is undertaken over the first years to show a real forest is in place and “free to grow”.

Greater Wellington Regional Parks are a great place to demonstrate how these forest plantings are a key part of integrated land management, where farming, plantation forestry and biodiversity goals can all coexist and complement each other.

Overall, the future is looking bright for native forest restoration. “Let’s get on with it” says Peter Handford.


For more information please contact:

Matthew O’Driscoll – Wellington Regional Council (022 681 8441)

Peter Handford- Groundtruth (021 0623397)