Sunday, May 26, 2024

Plan to grow value and sustainability of forestry sector

Forestry Minister, Stuart Nash says the Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) announced today will increase wood processing in New Zealand and grow a low-carbon, high-value industry.

“Through working closely with industry we’ve developed an ITP that will both boost the value and future-proof our Forestry sector, providing greater economic security all New Zealanders during this global downturn,” said Minister Nash.

New Zealand’s forestry and wood processing sector is now a multi-billion-dollar sector, with an export value that has grown by 22% since 2017. It is worth around $6.6 billion and employs more than 35,000 people in regional communities, the Minister said.

“The ITP will see our export numbers rise further, while creating new domestic opportunities for the sector,” he said.

“An initial investment of $2.5 million from the Government, plus another $1 million from industry contributions, will see a series of initiatives rolled out from 2023 onwards.”

Those initiatives include:

  • A diversification programme to improve the opportunities for non-radiata species to be grown and milled in New Zealand;
  • Establishing New Zealand’s first post-graduate qualification in wood processing;
  • Scaling up the Wood – Our Low-Carbon Future campaign that demonstrates the benefits of low-carbon products derived from locally grown logs;
  • Research that identifies how the use of wood products can be increased, by improving standards, and options to recognise the benefits of carbon stored in wood products;
  • A business case for a new facility to support commercialisation of bio products;
  • Provide support for a Māori forestry strategy.

“The ITP sets the path for future export growth that does not just rely on exporting logs and instead opens up domestic opportunities such as converting wood into high-tech low-carbon products such as construction materials, including timber frames, fence paling and decking, and into bio-materials such as liquid and solid fuels.

“These will all create more employment and lift sustainability.

“We will also develop our domestic woody biomass industry that takes forestry by-products such as branches, bark, chips and sawdust and turns them into products such as pellets and particleboard, and into bio-fuels to power our transport, make plastics and pharmaceuticals, and replace high-emissions materials in our buildings.

“More processing in New Zealand will create jobs, drive growth and provide more wood residues to support the growing bio-economy,” Mr Nash said.

The Government allocated $27 million in Budget 22 to support delivery of the ITP, and have ring-fenced another $155 million to support ITP-related initiatives and projects. 

“As a Government, we want to support the forestry and wood processing sector to help drive this country towards a low-emissions future, while at the same time creating meaningful jobs for hard-working Kiwis and growing our economy.”

“New Zealand is currently the world’s largest softwood log exporter. Today roughly 60% of our harvest is exported as logs to a small number of markets. 

“I’m also glad to announce the establishment of the Interim ITP Implementation group, which is made up of sector leaders and will support Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service to start the implementation of the plan.

“It has taken two years to get to this point, and I am very proud to officially launch the final plan here today. The Fieldays Forestry Hub was created in partnership between Government and the sector, and demonstrates what can be achieved when we work together,” said Mr Nash.

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