Forest Maker Honey and New Zealand Forest Restoration

New Zealand Forest Restoration Project

If you have supported us  before, then you may know that we at Forest Maker Honey invest our profits into ecological forest restoration. The benefits of manuka honey and manuka bushes are seemingly endless to humans and nature. So to us it’s important to give back. We do this by helping to ensure that the ingredients and ecosystem that support honey production are available for future generations.

We would love you to come on this forest restoration journey with us. So to begin, here is how Forest Maker Honey came to be, and why we’re so passionate about the change that sales of Forest Maker Honey are helping to facilitate.

How Honey and Forest restoration came together to make ‘Forest Maker Honey’

Forest Maker Honey founder, Danny Parker, gave up a career in Environmental Science to delve into the world of honey and forest restoration. But why? New Zealand, like many other places, has witnessed a mass loss of biodiversity and extinctions due to a huge upheaval and removal of the ancient forests and ecosystems. 

However, it’s not all bad news. In New Zealand, the Manuka Bush is the first species that colonise empty ground, allowing other trees to grow under its protective cover. Making the Manuka Bush incredibly helpful when it comes to reforestation. 

Putting two and two together, Forest Maker Honey was born.

The history of New Zealand forests

How did New Zealand’s (like much of the world’s) forests reach such a state of emergency? Here is a condensed history of New Zealand’s forests – which has led to the current state of NZ’s forest land today. And ultimately, Forest Maker Honey’s mission.

A long time ago when people were yet to reach New Zealand, nature was left alone to do what it knows best. It was flourishing, with over 80% of the land being covered in thriving, dense native forest and shrublands. The diversity in the indigenous forests was critical in supporting all kinds of animals and plants. As people arrived and New Zealand’s population grew, our native forests shrunk. People cleared large areas of land for settlements and food production, and also relied on the native timber for building. 

Native trees like Kauri, kahikatea, tōtara and rimu were favourites due to their size and quality. So much so that the forestry industry began to boom. By the mid-1830s, around one third of the European men in New Zealand were working in the timber industry. So, it should come as no surprise that timber then became one of New Zealand’s most important exports.

We soon reached a point where our native trees couldn’t keep up with timber production. To combat this, exotic trees (mainly Pinus Radiata pine trees, followed by Douglas fir) were introduced to help keep up with production. Thus, plantation forestry began in New Zealand.

While forestry has been beneficial to the NZ economy, it hasn’t been so kind to our land. Unfortunately, native forests don’t grow back overnight.  Despite efforts by locals and the department of conservation to protect and create conservation areas, a significant portion of New Zealand native forests have been destroyed.

Today, many great local communities and businesses have been putting in the work to restore New Zealand’s native forests. We now have a total of 8 million hectares of native forests, covering 30% of the land. But the work needs to continue, and that’s where we are proud to play our part.

The cultural significance of New Zealand’s indigenous forest

New Zealand’s indigenous forests are not only important to the wildlife that seek it’s shelter. The land and the life it supports also holds very special value for Māori – the native population of New Zealand. Māori mythology tells of how the creator of the first human also created the forests, forever connecting the two. The kaitiaki (guardian) Tāne Mahuta created the forests by pushing apart and separating his parents, Papatūānuku (the earth mother) and Ranginui (the sky father). Thus letting light into the world in between them. 

And so, land and forests have long been sacred and worthy of protection to Māori – for their spiritual value, beauty, and for providing food, medicines, and materials for weaving and building.

Creating change

While New Zealanders are increasingly rallying together to restore our native forests, there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure the longevity and health of our national parks and conservation areas, and the species that call them home.

Discussions around climate change and much needed environmental action are intensifying in Nz. And while NZ has a long list of things to work on, our forests can certainly play a role by reducing carbon dioxide levels. We’re a small country with big goals, and we hope you’ll join us.

If you’d like more information on the reforestation work that Forest Maker Honey is doing please don’t hesitate to contact us. Otherwise, you can also keep up with our projects on our blog page.