Government - industry initiative will help make forestry number one

6 Apr 2005

The Forest Industry Development Agenda, announced by Hon Jim Anderton, will help the industry on its way to becoming New Zealand's largest export earner, according to industry leaders.

It's good to see the Government recognising that forestry has an important role in New Zealand's future, says Forest Industries Council Chairman Lees Seymour.

Forestry is currently New Zealand's third largest export earner, but the industry aims to be the biggest by 2025. The new initiative builds on former initiatives such as the Wood Processing Strategy, and putting it in place has involved considerable commitment from industry organisations.

"It's a very good deal from our perspective and an opportunity for the industry to progress some things that we have been talking about for some time such as market access and development," Mr Seymour said.

Forest Owners Association President Peter Berg said the deal would benefit the whole industry because it would enable the development of a coherent strategy for the industry?s future growth.

Mr Berg said industry would continue to work through issues relating to the Kyoto Protocol with Government, but these should not stand in the way of FIDA.

"This is separate from Kyoto. FIDA is government recognition that a thriving forest industry is good for New Zealand, socially, environmentally and economically," Mr Berg said.

"The industry has already demonstrated its importance in many ways. It delivers the carbon credits that will allow New Zealand to meet its climate change targets, as well as many other environmental and employment benefits. FIDA will provide useful further impetus to enable forests and wood to contribute positively to the country."

FIDA provides approximately $23 million of government and industry funding for initiatives in skills and training, market access and development, wood design and bio energy.

Mr Seymour said he hoped to progress initiatives in each of these areas before the end of the year.

Governance of FIDA funding will be in the hands of a Steering Group, which met for the first time on 5 April. The Steering Group is comprised of industry and government representatives. The Steering Group will set strategic directions, endorse expenditure, monitor outcomes and report to the wider industry.

For more information, contact: Lees Seymour, Chairman, NZFIC, cell 0274 882 409

Peter Berg, President, NZFOA, cell 021 421 291

Kate Andrews, Consultus, cell 0274 333 191