Shonky log ex­porters in Jones’ sights

New Zealand Logger - - Forestwood 2018 -

FORESTRY MIN­IS­TER SHANE JONES HAS SUG­GESTED THE in­tro­duc­tion of a li­cenc­ing sys­tem for log traders to reg­u­late the ex­port trade.

Mr Jones told the ForestWood 2018 con­fer­ence in Welling­ton last month that “if it’s good enough for real es­tate prac­ti­tion­ers……and im­mi­gra­tions agents to be li­cenced why isn’t it good enough for a log trader to be li­cenced”?

He says that most of the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with lack of log sup­ply to sawmills in North­land “do not come from the big end of town, who re­alise that the in­dus­try needs sus­tain­abil­ity and they sup­port that”.

How­ever, Mr Jones says he knows some people in­volved in the trade “do not give a s__t about what I say or think, but this is our busi­ness and we need to pro­tect it”.

Mr Jones says that in or­der for the in­dus­try to be suc­cess­ful in New Zealand it needs to be con­fi­dent that it has ac­cess to raw ma­te­rial sup­ply. Just leav­ing it to mar­ket forces is not the an­swer as the “mar­ket is not that sim­plis­tic” and he claims that the mar­ket in­ter­na­tion­ally has a lot of state sup­port, which is a sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­encer.

He went on to de­liver a mes­sage for overseas own­ers of forests in New Zealand, say­ing that his gov­ern­ment does wel­come in­vest­ment in the sec­tor and he went into bat for them to amend the changes made to the in­clu­sion of forestry in the Overseas In­vest­ment Of­fice rules “to pro­tect the abil­ity of for­eign in­vestors to come to New Zealand and in­vest in our for­est sec­tor”.

But he adds that they need “to en­sure they leave enough raw ma­te­rial for New Zealand pro­ces­sors and man­u­fac­tur­ers to be able to grow. If they do not do that they will not have a rosy fu­ture un­der our gov­ern­ment. We do have an ex­pec­ta­tion that for­eign in­vest­ment will ben­e­fit New Zealand.”

He also gave more de­tails about how he en­vis­ages the ‘bil­lion tree’ plant­ing pro­ject tak­ing shape in the com­ing years and says that while his goal is to see the ex­otic es­tate dou­ble in size, na­tive trees will also form an im­por­tant part of the plan from both a cul­tural and so­cial view­point.

“Yes, I know that na­tive trees take longer to se­quester car­bon, but it rep­re­sents an im­por­tant part of our people’s cul­ture,” Mr Jones says, adding that the re­cently an­nounced fund­ing of the Ming­inui na­tive tree nurs­ery is part of that process.

But he does stress that he is “an in­dus­try man” and wants to en­sure that forestry max­imises the op­por­tu­ni­ties that will be pro­vided un­der the ‘bil­lion tree’ pro­gramme, say­ing: “I want to ad­vance this in­dus­try.”

He recog­nises there are road­blocks to achiev­ing the plant­ing of one bil­lion trees within the stated ten-year timescale and among the most sig­nif­i­cant is at­tract­ing enough labour to phys­i­cally put trees in the ground and then to have enough log­gers to har­vest those trees in the fu­ture.

Asked by a mem­ber of the au­di­ence if re­in­stat­ing the old Woods­man Schools around the coun­try to train more foresters for the ex­panded in­dus­try was on the agenda, Mr Jones says they are “part of the plan”.

He agrees the Woods­man Schools were a good idea and many of his cousins were trained there dur­ing the old For­est Ser­vice days and he says bring­ing them back is part of a strat­egy to “cre­ate a gen­er­a­tion of young men and women” with the skills that forestry will need in the fu­ture.

Fur­ther­more, the gov­ern­ment will be of­fer­ing schol­ar­ships to en­cour­age and re­ward those who want to come into forestry, “and I will say to my iwi people if you meet me half way we will con­trib­ute and you con­trib­ute” to put more young Maori into paid em­ploy­ment.

An­other chal­lenge ac­knowl­edged by Mr Jones is en­tic­ing enough landown­ers to come for­ward and be part of the ‘bil­lion tree’ plant­ing pro­gramme.

“My team is go­ing to be talk­ing with a num­ber of landown­ers around New Zealand who are grow­ing sheep, beef and other types of an­i­mals to free up some of their land to work with us to put into forestry,” he says.

“I ac­cept a key part is the gov­ern­ment’s at­ti­tude to­wards car­bon and the value of car­bon and the ef­fi­ciency of the car­bon trad­ing scheme. Ev­ery time I meet with our Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter I prom­ise you those mat­ters are at the top our agenda.”

Mr Jones says the ‘bil­lion tree’ strat­egy arose out of the new gov­ern­ment’s con­cerns about cli­mate change and the need for trees to soak up car­bon, so this re­mains an im­por­tant tool to meet­ing the coun­try’s cli­mate change oli­ga­tions.

NZL

Forestry Min­is­ter, Shane Jones, out­lines his vi­sions for the in­dus­try at the ForestWood 2018 con­fer­ence.

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