New Zealand should be proud of its plantation forests

18 Mar 2005

Countries with sustainable plantation forests worked effectively together at the Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) plantation review committee meeting in Stockholm last week.

New Zealand representative Rob McLagan says he has returned from the meeting with renewed enthusiasm for what forestry has to offer the country.

"Because forestry is enduring a period of poor market returns, it is easy to forget what it is contributing in terms of jobs, overseas earnings, bio-diversity, soil and water conservation, and carbon credits," he says.

"Also, when you are reminded about the unsustainable forestry practices in other countries overseas, you realise how much the New Zealand industry has to feel proud about. We?re rightly seen world-wide as leaders in sustainable forest management.

"However, that does not mean to say that some of our practices are not challenged by those whose experience is solely or largely with natural forest regimes."

Mr McLagan says the Forest Stewardship Council is one of several international bodies which certifies forests for sustainable practice.

It could take up to two years of negotiations between environmental organisations and the plantation industry representatives before a new FSC plantation standard is finalised.

"Some environmental groups have a very jaundiced view of practices in plantations in developing countries, and this tends to be reflected in their views about plantations in general.

"However, representatives of sustainable plantation industries from Australia, South Africa, Sweden and South America, as well as New Zealand, worked well together in Stockholm.

"We want to be sure that the certification bodies set stewardship standards based on good science and sound practice, not just on the perceptions and experiences of a number of countries which do not have the legislative framework and high management standards found in New Zealand.

"Not that New Zealand is resting on its laurels. The industry here accepts the need for continuous improvement and spends considerable resources on new research and management practices to achieve this objective."