Enable JavaScript to view protected content.


A Practical Guide to Managing Tōtara on Private Land

Project Status: Current

Paul Quinlan demonstrating pruning tōtara

Paul Quinlan demonstrating pruning tōtara

This Tāne’s Tree Trust project is funded by Te Uru Rākau. It will create a comprehensive web-based manual, complemented with short instructional videos on the management of tōtara fo King Dalton thinning a tōtara stand.King Dalton thinning a tōtara stand.rests throughout New Zealand.

This will be a free-to-use resource providing the latest information on planning, planting, establishment, silviculture (e.g., pruning and thinning), harvesting, legal processes, protection, conservation, and biodiversity management.

It will provide expert practical advice to realise maximum benefit from the One Billion Trees programme, and to encourage and guide management of extensive areas of second-growth regenerating native forest on private land.

This is a two-year project due for completion 30th November 2022. However, as chapters or topics and videos are completed, they will be posted on this website for use.


Since forming in 2005, the Northland Tōtara Working Group has conducted a series of funded projects exploring the potential to sustainably manage regenerating tōtara on private land for high-value timber production - and the many environmental values associated with native forest cover. All have produced extremely encouraging results. Indeed, the Tōtara Industry Pilot project indicates that there is a business case for a regional industry to start up based on sustainably managing the regenerated tōtara resource.

(refer: )

Considerable knowledge and experience has been gained from these projects, and when combined with Tane’s Tree Trust’s information on planting and establishing native forests, it comprehensively covers management of the species from planting and silviculture through to harvest, extraction and processing of the timber. However, this information has not been collated into a single, complete, and easily accessible form. Some of it, such as practical silvicultural experience (e.g., form-pruning methodology and techniques, and harvest tree selection etc.) has not been documented in any form and is therefore not accessible. This project will document and present that useful new information that has not previously been available.

It may seem strange that such an information gap exists, especially considering how many texts have been written on tōtara – one of the most iconic of our native tree species. However, these previous publications, such as Philip Simpson’s consummate book: Tōtara, a Natural and Cultural History, while supporting the notion of planting and management for conservation and cultural use - including timber, does not specifically cover practical technical advice on management for timber production.

Consequently, Tane’s Tree Trust receives many enquiries from enthusiastic landowners who are keen to know exactly how they should be managing their plantations or naturally regenerating stands of trees.

Therefore, this project proposes to cover such topics as planting, pruning, thinning, harvesting of tōtara forests on private land.

At this stage it is not proposed to cover milling and timber processing. However, such topics could be added in time.

Written content with graphic illustrations and photographs and 3 short, topic-specific videos are proposed. No hard-copy publications are proposed. The information will be freely available to all via the Tane’s Tree Trust website and links from other sites.

Progress to date

Chapters cover topics such as pruning and thinning. As they are completed, chapters and videos will be posted below for free viewing and downloading.


Practical Guide (can be downloaded on the links below)

Supporting Videos

  • Form-pruning tōtara for timber production on private land. By Paul Quinlan and Ian Brennan; Tāne’s Tree Trust. 2021.
  • Freestyle silviculture in naturally regenerating tōtara forests on private land. By Paul Quinlan and Ian Brennan; Tāne’s Tree Trust. 2022.
  • Harvesting tōtara – trialing small-scale, low-impact methods. By Paul Quinlan and Ian Brennan; Tāne’s Tree Trust. 2022.
  • Ring-barking in tōtara forests managed for timber production. By Paul Quinlan and Ian Brennan; Tāne’s Tree Trust. 2022.

Contacts for this project

  • Project Manager, Paul Quinlan
  • TTT Executive Officer: Enable JavaScript to view protected content.