NZ farm foresters recommend action in Wood Sector

Friday 29 May 2020

 
In conjunction with other sector associations, the NZ Farm Forestry Association, has made five important post Covid-19 recommendations to New Zealand’s Ministers of Forestry and Agriculture for specific actions in the wood sector that could assist with employment, generating revenue, and creating sustainable wealth.

These actions, if all were implemented, could lead to a trebling of export earnings and associated greater employment.

The NZ Farm Forestry Association is a national body representing the 14,500 small-scale forest owners. The Jack and Jill farm foresters in NZ are unique in the wood sector. They are independent small-scale investors and farmers and have an enthusiastic vision for more diverse forests and more innovative manufacturing sector. Also, the ideals of this group are largely complimentary to the pastoral sector and operate within sensible economic principles, while addressing environmental and climate change goals.

Recommendations

Public relations spokesperson for the association, Graham West, comments that “Our members are passionate about trees and hold a broader and more New Zealand centric view of the wood sector”. “However, if the sector is to occupy more land, it will need to be more than just enthusiastic, it will need to step up in terms of export earnings and supply stability” says Graham.

The association’s executive has been working on a new strategy and vision for some time and post Covid-19 is the right time for new thinking and a better plan for generating domestic wealth and achieving environmental mitigation.

“We have put five key recommendations to ministers and are happy to roll up our sleeves and help get the job done” said Graham. Specifically, we ask for:

1. The allocation $1 billion of the Provincial Growth Fund for the introduction and partnering of new wood processing technologies (such as biopackaging and bioplastics), that also achieve sustainability goals raised in many post Covid-19 commentaries. This investment could transform the use of exported logs that has a potential five-fold value multiplier.

2. Accelerate the transition of all industries into paying for their full carbon emissions under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to help rebuild Government revenues and meet climate change goals. “We want long term sustainability and that comes from a level playing field for emitters and resource users”. says Graham.

3. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to actively reassure rural communities and rebuild ‘stakeholder’ relations with landowners and forest investors. This is to reduce land use conflict and accelerate the uptake of the ideas around resilient landscapes and income diversification.

4. MPI to review some of its policy settings to promote the diversification of fast-growing plantation forest species. This is needed to reduce the biosecurity and market risks associated with concentrating on a single species.

5. The Government to host a post-Covid-19 “Forestry Industry Development Conference" that would promote sector unity; confirm a sector strategy that aligned with climate change goals; and develop a list of priorities and projects to rebuild supply chains and create additional exports, revenues and employment.

“The wood sector can contribute a significant and sustainable improvement to New Zealand’s economy and wellbeing” says Association president Hamish Levack, “we are fully aware that in terms of wealth creation and delivery of national environmental targets it has been underperforming to date. We support greater domestic processing of export logs as a means of addressing some of these needs”.

Small scale forest owners believe that a broader range of issues need addressing post Covid-19 including building resilience and sustainability in the economy and export industries. “We are confident our views are shared by many of the 14,500 entities that own small scale forests, and who currently produce around 40% of the national harvest” says Hamish. The owners of these entities are citizens, voters and parents committed to the future of the country and are ready to help make a better future for New Zealand.

Source: NZFFA

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