FOR­EST TALK

New Zealand Logger - - Contents -

Forestry fac­ing head­winds in 2018; Su­mit­omo to lift New Zealand wood sup­ply; Wall of Wood be­ing ‘dis­man­tled’; in­juries high­light need for breaker-out BPG; New Zealand MDF busi­ness changes hands; Fal­con’s new winch-as­sist leas­ing deal; for­est man­agers ex­pand­ing in New Zealand; Aus­tralia gets jump on NZ with na­tional forestry plan; dates for Tim­ber De­sign Awards 2018; so­lu­tion sought to re­me­di­ate haz­ardous treated tim­ber waste;

BKT forestry tyre range grows in New Zealand; Scion cracks Ra­di­ata Pine genome.

SOME­TIMES, WHEN YOU GET WHAT YOU ASK FOR, IT TURNS OUT TO BE what you don’t want. As the dis­cus­sions took place into the for­ma­tion of the new coali­tion govern­ment last month it was al­ready be­gin­ning to feel like forestry is be­com­ing a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball and we’d just like the politi­cians to butt out and leave us to run our in­dus­try as we see fit.

Trou­ble is, we asked for it. Sort of.

Over the past few years we have been call­ing on the govern­ment to give our in­dus­try a help­ing hand to grow. We’ve wanted help to grow more trees, grow more op­por­tu­ni­ties to process wood lo­cally, grow ex­ports of our fin­ished prod­ucts, grow high value jobs, grow the abil­ity of lo­cal saw mills to di­vert ex­port logs onto their saw lines, grow the ETS scheme and so on.

The new Labour / Green / NZ First coali­tion govern­ment is about to give us what we want. Sort of.

And that could turn out to be some­thing we re­ally don’t want, be­cause when you get what you ask for, it comes with un­in­tended con­se­quences.

As Win­ston Peters looks to fol­low through on his pre-elec­tion prom­ise to reg­u­late log ex­ports, in favour of giv­ing lo­cal mills first dibs on the wood, we’re al­ready see­ing some un­for­tu­nate con­se­quences.

For­est own­ers are now ques­tion­ing why they should re­plant af­ter har­vest­ing when they may not be free to sell their trees to whomever they wish, when­ever they wish, thus un­der­min­ing one of our big­gest prob­lems; a lack of plant­ing.

So lo­cal mills may get all the wood they want now, but they will miss out in fu­ture years as our forestry stocks shrink. Fewer trees would re­quire fewer log­gers to har­vest them. That would mean less need for log­ging equip­ment, caus­ing the sales and ser­vice side of the in­dus­try to con­tract.

Elec­tion-driven rhetoric over for­eign own­er­ship of key as­sets, such as land and forests, could now set other un­in­tended con­se­quences in mo­tion, putting off over­seas in­vestors.

So no more new wood pro­cess­ing plants would be built here, be­cause foreigners are the ones who have the money and the in­ter­na­tional in­dus­try con­nec­tions to sell the fin­ished prod­ucts.

Yes, we might get a wood-first pol­icy that will see more com­mer­cial build­ings con­structed from wood, but this is un­likely to keep a new large pro­cess­ing plant op­er­at­ing full time.

Yes, we might get a separate For­est Ser­vice es­tab­lished in Ro­torua, but its staff will be work­ing with a shrink­ing in­dus­try, not a grow­ing one.

What politi­cians – and a lot of peo­ple – for­get when they dis­cuss what forestry needs is that our in­dus­try works on very long lead times. Trees take 25-plus years to ma­ture and new pro­cess­ing plants that would make use of the har­vest must be planned in ac­cor­dance.

What has been miss­ing for the past few years has been a proper govern­ment-led plan for forestry that works for the whole in­dus­try, not just cer­tain sec­tions of it. Set out the ground rules, then let in­dus­try get on with mak­ing it work.

That’s what we re­ally want. Not short term po­lit­i­cal ball games.

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