FOREST PRACTICES AND POLICY
Forest practices and policy did not take root and develop to their present comparative strength in New Zealand until the formation, in 1920, of a separate Department, the State Forest Service, and the passing of the Forests Act 1921–22. Nevertheless, the way had been paved for these two important events from about the 1870s and a Forest Act was passed even as early as 1874. Long before the 1870s, timber had become an important commodity in the developing colony. It quickly acquired pride of place as the main building material, was used almost exclusively for fuel, for the fencing of farmlands, and, most important, provided a commodity for early overseas trade. For a brief period – in the early 1850s – it was the major export, thus assisting in no small measure the young colony. It was mainly the need to conserve and regulate the supplies of these important native timbers and, later, to supplement or replace them with plantation-grown timbers that led to the policy and administrative measures referred to above.
The timber needs of the country, a thriving wood utilisation industry, and forest policy and practice are now integrated to a marked extent. It was not always so, for in the early days of sparse settlement and ample forest, it was a long time before the Crown assumed adequate control over milling.