MAF study good basis for forest debate

5 May 2009

Forest owners say the MAF Forestry Sector Study released today provides a good basis for the development of national forestry policy.

“Given the right policy settings, the long-term prospects for plantation forestry are excellent, both from an economic and an environmental point of view,” said NZ Forest Owners Association chief executive David Rhodes.

“In the current economic downturn, the industry is making a significant contribution to the nation’s balance of payments – with growing log shipments to China making a particularly good showing.

“As forest production increases, a greater proportion of the harvest will be exported, hopefully more of it in value-added forms. Government is playing a vital part in this, by negotiating the removal of unfair trade barriers.

“Of concern at present are shrinking markets for milled timber. This is putting pressure on the processing companies that New Zealand needs in the longer-term if it is to maximise the economic value of locally produced logs.”

On the environmental front, he says there is growing recognition of the role plantations and forest products can make in reducing the country’s Kyoto footprint, and in mitigating the greenhouse gas and nitrogen discharges of the livestock industries.

“Wood chips and other forest fuels also have a big potential to reduce the cost and environmental effects of home and industrial heating,” Mr Rhodes says.

“We look forward to working with government in the development of policies that recognise that forestry has by far the longest time horizon of any primary industry.

“Investors need a high degree of certainty that regional and local councils will treat all land uses equitably – based on the effects a land use has on the environment and the fair application of user-pays principles. Leadership from the NZ Government is needed to ensure that this occurs.”

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NB: For a copy of the MAF report, go to www.maf.govt.nz/forestry/publications/forestry-sector-study-2009/index.htm