NZ forestry head­ing for a ma­jor crash, warns po­lit­i­cal leader

Australian Forests and Timber - - IN THE NEWS -

FORESTRY IN New Zealand is head­ing for a ma­jor crash un­less im­me­di­ate steps are taken to re­strain the ex­ces­sive ex­port­ing of raw logs, says New Zealand First.

“The growth of un­pro­cessed log ex­ports, mainly to China, has got­ten out of con­trol and it is de­stroy­ing any chance of growth to the value added sec­tor here in New Zealand,” said New Zealand First Leader and North­land Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Win­ston Peters.

“To­day we have no con­trol, no laws, and no care­ful and as­tute man­age­ment of one of our great­est re­sources,” he told a re­gional meet­ing of the Wood Pro­ces­sors and Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

“In­stead our forests are be­ing plun­dered. It’s boom and bust all over again. The way things are go­ing in com­ing years, ex­otic forests planted by peo­ple of fore­sight through the 1980s and early 1990s will be gone,” he told the meet­ing.

Mr Peters said the Na­tional Gov­ern­ment “treats this in­dus­try is if they are spud farm­ers pro­duc­ing an an­nual crop; they don’t seem to re­al­ize that it takes 27 years to grow a for­est”.

He said New Zealand’s forestry cri­sis has too many raw logs go­ing out, and too lit­tle plant­ing go­ing in. The amount of re­plant­ing on ex­ist­ing for­est land has de­clined.

In the last 15 years the to­tal area of new for­est area planted has plum­meted from 33,674 hectares down to 3051 hectares, an ap­prox­i­mate 90% de­crease.

The col­lapse in car­bon prices from 2008 to 2012 saw very lit­tle land be­ing con­verted to forestry with the re­verse oc­cur­ring as con­ver­sions to pas­ture were made – mainly for dairy pro­duc­tion.

“New Zealand is now clear felling and har­vest­ing too early. For­est own­ers, the for­eign com­pa­nies, in the car­bon price slump, are re­sort­ing to quick prof­its,” he said, and added that eight of the top 10 for­est com­pa­nies in New Zealand were over­seas con­trolled.

“Other pri­vate com­pa­nies and iwi are also caught up in this short term profit frenzy. Pri­vate own­ers are sell­ing early to the Chi­nese when it would be bet­ter that their trees are tagged for har­vest­ing in five to 10 years.

“It is true log ex­ports are needed for our econ­omy, es­pe­cially of our lower qual­ity prod­uct, but not at the cur­rent ex­ces­sive and un­sus­tain­able rates and to the detri­ment of pro­ces­sors and sawmills.

In 2000 the amount of raw logs ex­ported was al­most 6000 cu­bic me­ters – in 2011 it was well over 11,000 and last year it was over 16,000 cu­bic me­ters.

The Wood Re­source Quar­terly reports New Zealand con­tin­ues to be the world’s lead­ing ex­porter of soft­wood logs fol­lowed by Rus­sia and the US.

New Zealand, Rus­sia and the US ac­counted for al­most 50% of glob­ally traded logs last year in the main go­ing to the Chi­nese mar­ket. “The Wood Re­source Quar­terly says we are ex­port­ing over 50 per cent of our to­tal har­vest in log form.

He warned that sawmills would have to wind back or close; jobs would be lost. Log truck com­pa­nies would take a big hit as well.

Since 2000 the num­ber of log sawmilling busi­nesses in New Zealand has dropped from 507 with over 7500 em­ploy­ees to 327 busi­nesses with about 4800 em­ploy­ees.

Sta­tis­tics last year showed North­land had 460 em­ployed in forestry and log­ging; 210 in forestry sup­port ser­vices and 650 in sawmilling and tim­ber dress­ing.

Mr Peters said many of these jobs would be at risk.

“And this mas­sive fall-off in a tim­ber in­dus­try in cri­sis will con­tinue through to 2040 be­cause crit­i­cal de­ci­sions to main­tain our plant­ing didn’t hap­pen; that’s why we must dra­mat­i­cally cut back this crazy sell-off of raw logs.”

Mr Peters said that while New Zealand’s forests were be­ing cleaned out other na­tions were lock­ing up their forests.

“In the next five years China, our big­gest mar­ket for logs, will fully stop the com­mer­cial har­vest in their gov­ern­ment owned forests thereby lock­ing up 70.5 mil­lion hectares be­cause they have over­har­vested.

“They will stop the com­mer­cial har­vest in their col­lec­tive own­er­ship and pri­vate own­er­ship nat­u­ral forests on a step-by-step ba­sis.

“They will es­tab­lish just over 33 mil­lion hectares of new plan­ta­tions.

“They have set tar­gets for their for­est in­dus­try devel­op­ment by 2020 which in­clude:

China’s for­est cov­er­age rate is ex­pected to reach 23.0%;

Forestry na­tional for­est stock vol­ume is ex­pected to reach 16.5 bil­lion cu­bic me­ters

China’s for­est in­dus­try out­put value will reach $US1.3 tril­lion

“While China plans in this way, they tell their lo­cal wood users to con­tinue buy­ing cheap tim­ber from over­seas, from places like soft old New Zealand.

“And as China does this – we have a gov­ern­ment that has no plan­ning and is in­ter­ested only in the next quick buck that comes through the door.

“And China is not alone in look­ing af­ter its own forestry in­dus­try, Canada and Chile are do­ing the same.

“They are act­ing pru­dently. They have a to­tal max­i­mum quota of logs that can be ex­ported.

“But not in New Zealand – it’s open slather.

“It must end – we must not delay any longer deal­ing with this cri­sis – we must act be­fore the log sup­ply from our forests dry up.

“Forestry own­ers must be en­cour­aged to re­plant.

“Logs should not con­tinue to be taken across our wharves and over­seas un­til poli­cies to pro­tect the lo­cal in­dus­try, pro­ces­sors, saw millers and work­ers are first put in place.

“The lo­cal in­dus­try must be as­sured it can ac­cess the grades of logs they re­quire,” Mr Peters said.

He said there must be a set New Zealand do­mes­tic log price, and, like Canada, quo­tas must be ap­plied.

“For­eign buy­ers don’t pay GST on logs – which lo­cal sawmills must do.

“The Over­seas In­vest­ment of­fice must have much tighter scru­tiny of for­eign in­vestors com­ing to New Zealand.

“Buy­ers of our forests must pro­vide real ev­i­dence to show sell­ing to them is for the long term ben­e­fit of New Zealand.

“There has to be in­vest­ment in added value New Zealand wood prod­ucts.

Mr Peters said there were op­por­tu­ni­ties in New Zealand that were not be­ing pur­sued.

“North­land pine is rated the best in the coun­try for struc­tural pur­poses, and with the home build­ing cri­sis in Auck­land, the con­struc­tion in­dus­try must be en­cour­aged to use tim­ber.

“Again this is look­ing af­ter our lo­cal in­dus­try, but to help this hap­pen the gov­ern­ment must play its part as well. They must im­pose tar­iffs on im­ported build­ing ma­te­ri­als not made here.”

In the 2014 Bud­get the gov­ern­ment again worked against the best in­ter­ests of this coun­try and dropped the tar­iffs."

New Zealand First and Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Win­ston Peters

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