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Institute sets five challenges for sector's future

New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF)
Te Pūtahi Ngāherehere o Aotearoa Inc.

April 22, 2006

Institute sets five challenges for forestry sector’s future

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry has set a list of five challenges for the industry to position itself better for the future.

The challenges came at the conclusion of the formal proceedings of the NZIF’s Annual Conference at Te Papa in Wellington on Saturday, April 22.

The five challenges include the development of a carbon market in New Zealand, putting a monetary value on the non-extractive values of wood such as biodiversity, water and soil quality and carbon sequestration, refining its strategic direction and developing market linked research and communications strategies.

Final session chairman Russ Ballard, also current chairman of Scion, the industry’s major research body, said the development of a carbon market would need to be started by the industry.

“Government would still be involved, however, we can’t wait for them to set this up for us. We need to act and get this going now,” he said.

In terms of valuing the non-extractive values of wood or the non-wood values of forests as the conference theme put it, this was a contentious area, Dr Ballard said.

“We need to have a look at what options there are, what impediments there are to this happening and get the major players involved including the Ministry for the Environment.”

Dr Ballard said the biggest problem with placing a dollar value on something intangible like water quality or aesthetic beauty, was the lack of public awareness of the wider benefits forests provide to everyday society beyond providing timber for building or fuel.

“We need a communications strategy to address these shortcomings and support all our other work. The agriculture industry does it effectively. They draw the passion of their argument out into the public and generate sympathy. We need to learn from their example,” Dr Ballard said.

He believed it was important to have forestry recognised financially for the everyday benefits forests provide to the community and society. At present, foresters had to provide this benefit at a cost to themselves, a situation that was causing some resentment.

However, with the industry leading discussion on the issue, Dr Ballard said they were empowering themselves to remedy the problem.

Woodco, the umbrella body representing forestry and wood processing industries will likely lead the refinement of the strategic direction and research strategy for the sector.

NZIF President Jaquetta Bradshaw said it was timely to address these challenges now when forestry was going through such a large amount of change.

She said the conference had been a success and she looked forward to seeing the challenges the conference had set being addressed by the wider industry.


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