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Rotorua council first to adopt a ‘Wood First’ policy

Rotorua council first to adopt a ‘Wood First’ policy

Rotorua District Council is to become the first local authority in New Zealand to adopt a ‘Wood First’ Policy.

The policy would be acknowledgement of the importance of the forestry and wood processing industries to district, regional and national economies.

Rotorua’s decision to develop a Wood First policy was made at a meeting this morning [16 July] of the council’s Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee.

It complements a proposal by the New Zealand Wood Council encouraging central government to adopt a similar policy at a national level.

A report prepared for the council by business consultant Bryce Heard and presented at the committee meeting, noted that Rotorua sits at the heart of the country’s forestry industry. It said almost half of New Zealand’s wood total was harvested from central North Island forests within a hundred kilometres of Rotorua.

Forestry and wood processing accounts for approximately 15 per cent of Rotorua’s GDP, with around 11 million cubic metres of logs harvested each year from around Rotorua, four million of which was exported in raw log form, mostly to China. The remaining seven million cubic metres of timber was processed into higher value products.

The report indicated that the logs currently exported represented an opportunity for greater economic growth if more wood could be processed into local products to compete in national and international markets.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said a Wood First policy would support the council’s and community’s recently adopted Rotorua 2030 vision and goals.

“It’s all about our future economic growth and, given our location surrounded by forest, it’s also about starting to tell the real story of Rotorua. This is outside-the-box thinking, and it’s very exciting that we’ll be the first in New Zealand to adopt a Wood First policy.

Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson, the council’s portfolio lead for sustainable economic growth, said the Wood First policy would provide a real opportunity for wider collaboration across the Bay of Plenty region.

“We can clearly show the way by this policy,” he said

District councillor, Tania Tapsell described the decision as “a very exciting initiative.”

“It completely makes sense, not only for our regional economy but nationally as well.”

Councillor Mark Gould said the policy would have a huge impact on Rotorua in the future.”

The unanimous committee decision was to develop a Wood First policy for adoption by the council and to prepare a plan for implementation of the policy.

END

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