Woodscape to transform forestry sectorThe NZ forest and wood processing industries are moving quickly on a strategy to transform the sector. The Wood Council (Woodco) has just given the go-ahead to a NZ$400,000 research-based initiative which aims to get the highest value out of every cubic metre of timber harvested. Known as Woodscape, it is modelled on a major study carried out for the Canadian forest products industry in 2009.
“In the next decade we will see an increase in the harvest. We are determined to extract the best value we can from this resource and reinvigorate our sector,” says Woodco chair Doug Ducker.
The Canadian ‘Bio-Pathways’ study concluded that much higher returns will come from integrating new technologies into traditional wood processing, including the conversion of forest biomass into bio-energy, bio-chemicals and other bio-materials. As a result, Canadian sawmills are now expanding into bioenergy and pulp mills are converting into bio-refineries for production of pulp, bio-energy and bio-chemicals.
Because of the many differences between Canada and New Zealand, Mr Ducker cautions that the strategies that emerge from Woodscape won’t be a carbon copy of what has been adopted by Canada. But they do have the potential to be equally transformational.
Woodscape is being led by a 12-strong team at Scion crown research institute with technical support from the industry and the universities. The study will draw heavily on the proven Bio-Pathways methodology adapted for differences in the NZ wood supply, industry structure, operating costs and markets.
Funding comes from all major industry players, Scion, NZ Trade & Enterprise, EECA, the Bio-energy Association and the Ministry of Primary Industry. Promising technologies will be identified, costed, ranked and presented to sector workshops by the end of October. Development scenarios for five regions will be explored and workshopped during December. Final recommendations will be made to the Wood Council board in autumn next year, says Mr Ducker.
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