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NZ Wood welcomes forestry productivity indicators

Release from New Zealand Wood

10 April 2008

NZ Wood welcomes indicators for forestry productivity

Development of scientifically-robust productivity indicators for New Zealand’s forestry sites will help ensure the long-term sustainability of forests as a resource, according to NZ Wood.

Crown Research Institute, Scion, announced on Tuesday, that it has developed key soil and environmental indicators showing the productive capacity of sites in every part of New Zealand where someone may want to plant a forest.

Spokesperson for NZ Wood, Geoff Henley, said the announcement was a big step forward for the industry.

It would allow evidence-based forecasts as to the productive capacity of potential new sites as well as allowing monitoring of existing forest sites to ensure they were being managed sustainably.

“Wood is our most renewable raw material,” Mr Henley said. “But in order to demonstrate true long-term sustainability, the industry needs tools that readily show its management practices are not depleting the land forests are grown on.”

Scion’s development is built on the existing strength of the environmental practices within New Zealand’s forestry industry.

There was evidence that commercial forestry plantations actually protected the land, he said. They provided protection from erosion and did not appear to diminish soil quality over time.

“Forested land has successfully supported multiple cycles of growth and harvesting, or is almost immediately suitable for other uses such as dairy farming if not reforested.”

The ability to evaluate potential new sites for plantation forestry was also particularly timely, given current recognition of the valuable role forests play in reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide, Mr Henley said.

“NZ Wood also believes that the best economic returns for the country can be achieved by planting forests that are commercially efficient and productive.

“This ensures that wood, with all its environmental benefits, will also remain cost-competitive for users compared with less environmentally-friendly alternatives.”

Mr Henley said wood and forests fought climate change, with forests absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and wood products storing this carbon, often for centuries.

ENDS

Background note: Key productivity indicators include the carbon to nitrogen ratio in the soil, the total amount of nitrogen and phosphorous, depth of top soil, porosity, air temperature and water storage capacity in the root zone.

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