Forestry ma­jor ex­port earner

Waitaki Herald - - ADVERTISING FEATURE - By GRA­HAM KEEP (Keepie)

For many years forestry has been a huge part of the New Zealand econ­omy, and with tim­ber be­ing one of the most sus­tain­able prod­ucts any­where in the world, forestry as an in­dus­try will only get more im­por­tant.

Whilst New Zealand na­tive tim­ber is a fan­tas­tic prod­uct, the trees are gen­er­ally very slow grow­ing, which can lead to a grad­ual re­duc­tion in the ar­eas of for­est.

On the other hand, ex­otic trees such as pi­nus ra­di­ata, macracarpa, dou­glas fir, and bluegum grow much faster in New Zealand than over­seas in their na­tive en­vi­ron­ment.

The to­tal area of ex­otic for­est in New Zealand is ap­prox­i­mately 1.7 mil­lion hectares ac­cord­ing to fig­ures for the 2012/2013 year. The vast ma­jor­ity of the ex­otic forestry is pi­nus ra­di­ata

Most of the ex­otics have a growth pe­riod of about 35 years from plant­ing to ma­tu­rity with the larger forests un­der­go­ing har­vest­ing and re­plant­ing as the trees reach ma­tu­rity.

The ac­tual man­age­ment of the forests in­clud­ing plant­ing, prun­ing, thin­ning and fi­nally log­ging, pro­vides a va­ri­ety of work through­out New Zealand but if you bear in mind that only about 50 per cent of the tim­ber is ex­ported as logs, even more down­stream jobs are pro­vided.

Tim­ber not ex­ported as logs is turned into var­i­ous prod­ucts such as fi­bre board, ply­wood, wood chips, mould­ings and pa­per.

The industrial plants that pro­duce th­ese end prod­ucts are spread around New Zealand be­cause it is more eco­nomic to be rea­son­ably close to the tim­ber growth source.

To­tal tim­ber in­dus­try em­ploy­ment amounts to ap­prox­i­mately 1,8000 jobs with 7000 in the forestry sec­tor and 11,000 in the var­i­ous down­stream pro­duc­tion. Add to this the value to other as­so­ci­ated in­dus­tries such as trans­port, and the value of trees to New Zealand is ob­vi­ous.

The to­tal in­dus­try in­clud­ing logs and down­stream prod­ucts are worth a stag­ger­ing $4.5 bil­lionin ex­ports to the New Zealand econ­omy.

Prin­ci­ple ex­port mar­kets are China and Australia along with ex­ports to most coun­tries in the South East Asian re­gion plus the USA and Africa.

With global warm­ing dis­cus­sion around the world be­com­ing more and more rel­e­vant, sooner or later New Zealand will end up as a sig­na­tory of a global agree­ment on car­bon emis­sions, and forestry would have the po­ten­tial to earn even more for the econ­omy.

Most of in­dus­try and in­deed farm­ing emit green­house gases into the at­mos­phere, whereas trees, through the process of pho­to­syn­the­sis ba­si­cally gob­ble up car­bon diox­ide, and spit out oxy­gen, mak­ing them an ideal com­pan­ion plant for us hu­man be­ings.

Trees store the car­bon and only re­lease it back into the at­mos­phere when they die, by which time we will have planted re­place­ments that gob­ble up the re­leased car­bon diox­ide again.

The bulk of New Zealand forestry is large ar­eas of com­mer­cially owned for­est, but there is also a size­able area that is made up from smaller blocks on fam­ily owned farms, planted as a long term in­vest­ment.

In the many years I spent deal­ing with the farm­ing com­mu­nity, I of­ten came across farm­ers that had planted trees on land with a sep­a­rate ti­tle. This gave them an in­vest­ment that could be used or sold with­out im­pact­ing on the fam­ily farm.

Smaller blocks: The bulk of New Zealand forestry is large com­mer­cially owned for­est, but a size­able area is smaller blocks on fam­ily-owned farms.

Fast grow­ing: Ex­otic trees grow much faster in New Zealand than over­seas in

their na­tive en­vi­ron­ment.

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