Wall of Wood being ‘dismantled’
WOOD PROCESSORS ARE HOPING THAT New Zealand First’s influence on the new government will guarantee log supplies to their mills in the future.
While details of the new administration’s plans for forestry were still sketchy when NZ Logger magazine went to press, mill owners are banking on comments made by Winston Peters during and after the election campaign that exports of logs cut from trees as young as 20 years of age need to be “reigned in”.
The situation has become acute in Northland, where mill owners say they have a constant battle to buy enough logs to meet local processing requirements as the Wall of Wood continues to be “dismantled”. Many of the logs being harvested, especially in woodlots, come from trees that are too young and the wood is not suitable for milling.
The situation could become even worse, not just for Northland timber processors, but for mills throughout the country with predictions of only another five years of guaranteed timber supply.
Dr Jon Tanner, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association, was recently quoted as saying that due to the “voracious” appetite of overseas log buyers the long-term availability of log supply for domestic processing was under serious threat.
Within five years, he believes, the four million tonnes predicted to be available for local industry could shrink to around half that total.
“The wall has not yet gone, but we’re looking at a big hole,” says Dr Tanner.
He is calling for the industry and government to work together to slow down the rate of felling immature forests.
NZ First leader, Winston Peters, says controls need to be put in place to enable local saw mills and wood processors to obtain the logs without interruption to their business. He has even suggested the introduction of a quota scheme that would force forest owners to offer logs to mills first before they are exported, as happens in British Columbia.