Australia gets jump on NZ with national forestry plan
AUSTRALIA IS ECLIPSING NEW ZEALAND in developing a National Forest Industries Plan with backing from its government.
On this side of the ditch, calls for the government to come up with a similar longterm plan to help our industry grow have fallen on deaf ears, so New Zealand foresters are putting one together themselves. But, without government input, it won’t carry the same weight or produce the same results.
Meanwhile we look across the Tasman with envy at the strategic plan just announced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolom Turnbull to help inject longer term certainty and sustainability to boost their $23 billion forest industry’s economic output – especially in the regions.
Unveiling the plan at the recent Australian Forest Products Association dinner in Canberra, Mr Turnbull announced the National Forest Industries Plan would be pursued by his government to ensure the forestry industry is a “growth engine” for regional Australia.
“Now we understand that you have long lead times, you need long term certainty and so it’s vital that governments get the policy settings right,” Mr Turnbull told the association.
“I’m very pleased to announce that (Assistant Agriculture and Water Resources Minister) Anne Ruston will help us develop a new government plan that will underpin growth in the renewable timber and woodfibre industry.
“Anne’s work and our new government plan will give you the vision and certainty you need.
“We’re committed to developing this industry as a growth engine for regional Australia.”
Senator Ruston says: “The modern face of forest products is engineers and chemists – just ask the guys at Visy and Australian Paper.
“Everyone is realising just how great forestry is and the huge role it can and should play in Australia’s future.
“Probably the greatest challenge facing our industry is investment in new plantations.”
Mr Turnbull says the Forest Industry Advisory Council’s vision outlined in its recent report into how to transform the forestry industry was “simple yet profound – expand into the bio-economy to triple your value by 2050”.
“Or put another way, ‘the right trees in the right place at the right scale’,” he says.
“Not only do we have a lot of trees – but we have an extraordinary diversity of trees. I think there is a lot more that can be done in terms of plantations.
“So many more species, Australian species I’m talking about as well, that can be planted in plantations.”
Mr Turnbull says Australia should be “a forest industry international powerhouse”.
With the Australian forest industry directly providing tens of thousands of jobs harvesting from 2 million hectares of plantation forests and 125 million hectares of native forests, Senator Ruston says the government is committed to further collaboration to achieve certainty into the future.
Welcoming the announcement, AFPA Chairman Greg McCormack says the guiding policy documents used by government to frame responses to the industry were both delivered last century – the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement and the 1997 Plantations Vision 2020 plan.
But he adds: “Our industries have changed dramatically since then and I am delighted the Prime Minister has recognised that it is vital that government and departments also update their approach.
“The new government National Forest Industries Plan will, we trust, outline actions to support the industry to establish new plantations, increase investment and grasp opportunities in the emerging bio-economy to turbo-charge regional job creation and economic development.”