FOR­EST TALK

New Zealand Logger - - Contents -

Ex­port log prices may be peak­ing; China ap­proves Ra­di­ata for build­ings; Ro­torua tar­geted for NZ’s sec­ond CLT plant; Methyl Bro­mide re­place­ment a step closer; PF Olsen head Peter Clark steps down; overseas forestry in­vest­ment stream­lined; bil­lion tree timetable gives in­dus­try con­fi­dence; work starts on Wairoa forestry rail link; DIY drug test­ing not the an­swer; nom­i­na­tions for North­land Forestry Awards open; Tim­ber De­sign Awards en­tries now open; light­en­ing the load with syn­thetic rope; fo­cus on im­prov­ing log trans­port; fund­ing to ex­pand Bay of Plenty tree nurs­ery.

AF­TER A RECORD HAR­VEST IN 2017 THERE ARE A LOT OF CONTENTED smiles around forestry, es­pe­cially with log prices peak­ing at the same time. We could be in for a re­peat in 2018. Or maybe not. De­pends on who you lis­ten to. Logic tells us that our har­vest is go­ing to keep on grow­ing over the next decade, be­cause we’ve only just started nib­bling at the Wall of Wood. But there are grow­ing pains that could put a cap on how much wood we can re­cover from our plan­ta­tion forests. And that’s a worry.

People are al­ready start­ing to talk about ca­pac­ity con­straints at our ma­jor log ports. And we all know that some­times it’s hard to get trucks into the for­est to pick up logs due to driver short­ages and other is­sues. Sub-stan­dard roads in the re­gions are also hurt­ing the abil­ity of trans­porters to keep to sched­ule. Then you’ve got sil­vi­cul­ture and log­ging con­trac­tors des­per­ately short of people to plant and cut trees.

Talk about creak­ing at the seams.

It’s been good to see Shane Jones keep his prom­ise about in­ject­ing cap­i­tal into the re­gions to help al­le­vi­ate some of th­ese prob­lems. But the em­pha­sis placed on in­vest­ing in rail to move more logs ig­nores the point that trains will only be able to trans­port a frac­tion of our har­vest, be­cause rail doesn’t reach into many of the out­ly­ing ar­eas where much of the Wall of Wood is com­ing from.

I’ve said it for years, and I’ll keep say­ing it; we need a na­tional strat­egy for the forestry in­dus­try that in­cor­po­rates ev­ery facet, from find­ing more land to grow the promised bil­lion trees, to at­tract­ing the people who will plant, har­vest and trans­port the logs, to en­sur­ing there is a com­pre­hen­sive lo­gis­tics sys­tem to ex­pe­dite those logs to their des­ti­na­tions. There are other im­por­tant things that should be in the strat­egy, such as look­ing to max­imise the value of our forestry re­source by en­cour­ag­ing pro­cess­ing in New Zealand and find­ing mar­kets to sell those prod­ucts. And so on and so forth.

Putting more trees in the ground is a great feel-good ac­tiv­ity, but I just hope they are go­ing into the right places, where they can eas­ily be har­vested and trans­ported. At the same time, we need to plan ahead to en­sure the lo­gis­tics for trans­porta­tion are ready when log­gers go into those new forests.

The grow­ing pains we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing to­day are the re­sult of not hav­ing a na­tional strat­egy in place years ago. We just planted and hoped.

We’re now in catch-up mode.

So while I don’t want to rain on Shane Jones’ pa­rade, I think it is vi­tally im­por­tant that the Min­is­ter and his col­leagues sit down ur­gently with forestry lead­ers and de­vise a com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy that brings all the el­e­ments to­gether.

It could save a lot of heartache 25 years down the road when those bil­lion new trees are part of the next Wall of Wood.

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