What to plant on erodible land — Fact sheet

This fact sheet is based on research by Scion from the Planting eroding hill country in the Hawke’s Bay Region report. It looks at the benefits of planting on erodible land, and which species to plant where.

Why it's good to plant erodible land

By planting on erodible land, the land will be more resilient to climate change and severe storms.

You’ll see an increase in land productivity and value, with benefits from:

  • avoided erosion
  • avoided investment in marginal land
  • avoided damage to infrastructure (for example fencing, downstream land).

There are environmental benefits like:

  • avoided sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen entering waterways
  • carbon storage
  • new habitat for species like kiwi and karearea (bush falcon).

Forests help regenerate headwater streams and the areas around them, and those benefits flow on to downstream waterways

Plantation forestry helps strengthen communities and create jobs.

Choosing what to plant

To make sure you get the most value when you’re planting trees, it’s important to know which tree species are suited to which environmental conditions. Make sure you plant the right tree in the right place for what you’re trying to achieve.

Talk to an expert who can advise you which trees might be best suited to your site based on the landscape, its climate and soil types. You can also look at similar sites in your area and see what’s growing well.

Which trees to plant where

If you want to establish plantation forestry on eroding hilly land, there are a few different options to consider.

Native species

Native species, which originally covered the land, are suitable for planting around New Zealand. Management options for forestry include permanent forests on steep land and land at higher altitudes, or growing plantation trees.

Exotic species

Exotic species like radiata pine can make money where access for harvesting and transport is possible. Coast redwood and eucalyptus are good options for planting at lower elevations if sites suit.

Further reading

This fact sheet is based on research from Scion supported by funding awarded to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company by the One Billion Trees Partnership Fund, Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service/Ministry for Primary Industries.

Full reports are available to read on the Ministry for Primary Industries' website:

  • Summary report – Planting eroding hill country in the Hawke’s Bay region.
  • Technical report – Planting eroding hill country in the Hawke’s Bay Region: Right tree, right place, right purpose.


This work was completed in 2019. Since then, devastating weather events have affected the North Island in 2023. The Government is doing more work on species for erodible land in this region, so this material may no longer be accurate or up to date.