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Taumarunui Redwood Reserve

The stand has not been thinned. While the larger trees in the stand are still growing, the smaller supressed trees are dying
While the larger redwood trees in the stand are still growing, the live volume has not increased significantly for the last 30 years.

While the larger trees in the stand are still growing, the live volume has not increased significantly for the last 30 years. For scale, note the person standing in the center of the photo.

April 2014, Simon Rapley, General Manager – New Zealand Redwood Company –

The Taumarunui Redwood Reserve is approximately 10 acres of redwood seedlings that were planted on public land around 1922 by the former New Zealand Forest Service. The Forest Service established experimental forests/stands in most regions of NZ. They were testing this area by planting exotic trees to be evaluated for potential use as a commercial forest.

The redwood stand has not been thinned. While the larger trees in the stand are still growing, the smaller supressed trees are dying

This stand has not been thinned. While the larger trees in the stand are still growing, the smaller suppressed trees are dying.

Somehow during this period when these experimental plantings were being evaluated, this stand of redwood was overlooked.

One likely theory is that the seedlings were suppressed under brush or grass for the first 20-30 years of their lives, and because of this, the redwood stand may have been forgotten, thought to be completely dead, or considered to be a failure.

What we know now is that redwood is a very tenacious species, and they can stay in a semi-dormant state for years waiting for the opportunity to grow. Once redwood gets sufficient light and water, it will outcompete and shade out most everything else.

In this case, what was once may have been a forgotten brush field is now an incredibly productive redwood forest.

Due to its history, this stand has not been thinned. While the larger trees in the stand are still growing, the smaller suppressed trees are dying. Because of this, the live volume has not increased significantly for the last 30 years.

Had this forest been actively managed with thinning and weed control, it could have achieved this volume in much less time.

Topography of this site is steep and faces into the prevailing wind. However, this area is not particularly windy by NZ standards. Soils were formed from volcanic material over old marine sediments and are free draining and fertile.

The mean annual rainfall is approximately 1,000 mm (40 inches) and mean annual temperature is 12-12.5 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit).

While the standing volume of this experimental forest/stand is extraordinary, there are younger stands in NZ that are on track to achieve this volume if left to mature.

Some statistics for this experimental area:

  • Established circa 1922
  • 460 live stems per hectare (186 stems per acre)
  • Mean Top Height 66 meters (216 feet)
  • Average Diameter at Breast Height 82 centimeters (32 inches)
  • Total Stand Volume of over 3,500 cubic meters per hectare (300,000 board feet per acre)

These statistics are almost unheard of in similarly aged California stands. Because the trees are so tall, it is difficult to capture them with a camera. One can get an idea of the height of these trees from the video clip below.

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