If humans were to colonise Norfolk Island at all, some deforestation – cutting down the iconic pines – was inevitable. The indigenous forests included very few plants with edible products. But after more than two centuries of occupation, there are now many hillsides covered in low-value weedy shrubs – and the Island imports plantation timber from New Zealand for its building construction.
The benefits of forests become the justification for afforestation:
Although the Norfolk Island Pine is knotty and prone to attack from borers unless treated, there is a treatment plant on the island and the material is suitable for house framing. In any case, there are many other species, both indigenous and introduced, suitable for construction and cabinet work, that could replace weedy shrubs.
The above thoughts suggest that there should be a concerted program to reclaim land covered in woody shrubs with productive timber species, with some priority given to the indigenous Maple, Ironwood, Yellowood, Isaacwood and other multi-use species.
Given the long period before timber trees can be harvested, planting of these species is primarily a program for the public authorities who are not required to demonstrate a commercial return. However, private landowners willing to commit some of their land to forestry or agroforestry (forestry on farms) are encouraged to do so.