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.