Employment Numbers


Measuring who is employed in forestry is not a trivial exercise. Due to the seasonal nature of silviculture and planting, some official statistics can under-estimate forestry employment depending on when employees are surveyed. Statistics New Zealand also classifies industries by main economic activity, this means any part-time forestry operators will not be included in official statistics. The Census showed that on 5 March 2013 there were 7,056 employed in the forestry sector. The Census is self-reported; it relies on people correctly filling in their occupation and employer and for Statistics New Zealand to correctly classify that occupation.  To demonstrate the impact of classifying industry by main activity and self-reported occupation. In the latest Census, 35 percent of forestry related occupations 37 were employed in non-forestry industries (largest being Management Advice and Related Consulting Services).

37 Forestry Worker, Production Manager (Forestry), Logging Assistant, and Forest Scientist.

38 Turnover greater than $30,000 per year.


Further, the Census will under report forestry employment since it collects data in March, while the peak typically in occurs in September/December quarters.  A more reliable approach is to use the Linked Employer Employee Data (LEED). The LEED database uses employer monthly tax returns. Being administrative data of all economical significant businesses 38 that file a tax return it has great coverage and unlike the Census collects monthly tax returns. However, like the Census it has problems with industry data being classified by main activity.  The LEED database shows 7,287 people employed in the forestry sector, with an additional 2,223 people self-employed in the sector. A total of 9,510 people working in forestry.  For health and safety reasons the major industry players also collect the number of hours worked through the Incident Recording Information System (IRIS) database. It records the number of hours worked by employees in larger forest owner/management companies. Unfortunately, not all companies contribute consistently to the IRIS database.  The number of hours can be converted using average hours from the quarterly employment survey. This suggests 7,142 FTEs. Since we know that not all companies contribute or contribute only infrequently to the database, this number therefore is conservative.  Informetrics also report on the Competenz39 website that forestry has 10,846 filled jobs. A filled job is not equivalent to FTE since it could be part time. Therefore, the Informetrics estimates are not comparable.

NZIER report – Plantation forestry statistics 33

Table 7 Triangulation of employment data

2015 Source




LEED database


IRIS database




Note (1) full time equivalents. (2) Filled jobs.