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Hodgson Speech On Paper And Wood Products


Embargoed until delivery, 12.30pm, 2 May 2000,

Ms Lisa Lachapelle, Chair of the Advisory Committee, Mr Wulf Killmann, Director, Forestry Department of FAO, Mr James Griffiths, Chair of the International Forum, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to our country, and especially to Rotorua, the hub of the New Zealand plantation forestry industry, for this the forty-first meeting of the FAO Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products (ACPWP). I am told that thirty different countries are represented here and that collectively you represent approximately ninety percent of international forest products trade. Also, I understand that this morning you concluded the annual meeting of the International Forum of Forest and Paper Association and that its recommendations will be tabled at this Advisory Committee meeting over the next day and a half.
I note that the ACPWP has been established to advise the Director General of FAO on activities it should undertake to support sustainable forestry development and that you meet annually to discuss issues and provide advice related to forest industries. I also notice from your agenda for this meeting that it includes a number of items that are of considerable importance to the international community. These include global warming and the Kyoto Protocol, trade and environment issues, in particular, the trade liberalisation outlook after Seattle, as well as, certification and labelling of forest products.
These are issues at the core of sustainable forest management that have been discussed in UN fora, such as the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests, and currently being considered at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, as well as bodies such as the FAO and the International Tropical Timber Organisation. They are also addressed through voluntary measures such as the Montreal, Helsinki and Tarapoto Processes for establishing criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, and the International Forest Industry Roundtable which has a task group looking at international mutual recognition of credible certification systems.
Although, on a global scale, New Zealand is only a small country we are active participants in all these diverse forums because we feel we have a useful and innovative contribution to make when it comes to sustainable development.
Governments and international organisations can work towards enacting laws and regulations, but at the end of the day, it is the way the forest industry operates that largely determines the outcome of government policies. In this sense it is comforting to note the large number of countries represented here directly from the forest industry. It shows their commitment to carry out their business in a way that promotes sustainable forest management. The collective expertise and advice from this group will strengthen the FAO’s role in implementing forestry policies that enhance efforts in all countries in developing their forestry resources to achieve global sustainable management objectives.
I also notice that a part of your deliberations are devoted to aspects of forestry in New Zealand. I would like to congratulate you for holding this meeting in our country for we have taken a number of measures, some of which are unique, in promoting sustainable forestry development.
It was recognised in the 1890’s in New Zealand that if we continued to fell the natural forest for agricultural development and to meet our wood needs we would have cleared all those forests well before the close of the last century. It was due to the foresight of our forefathers that we now have an alternate resource of nearly two million hectares of planted forests.
It has indeed taken the pressure off natural forests which now contribute less than one half of one percent to the 17 million cubic metres of wood that is produced each year. To us these natural forests have far more value than providing wood. They are culturally significant to New Zealanders. They are important as a reservoir of biological diversity, for stabilisation of soil and water values, for recreation and many other purposes. It is important to protect them.
The UNCED Forest Principles recognised the importance of planted forests in sustainable forest management. In New Zealand we have been able to set aside around 24 percent of our total land area in natural forest cover (some 6.8 million hectares) because of our highly productive, renewable planted forests.
The conservation benefits of planted forests have been reinforced through the International Expert Meeting on the Role of Planted Forests held in Santiago, Chile in April 1999 – which I understand you were briefed on over breakfast this morning. Your field trip on Thursday will give you an opportunity to see our approach to sustainable forest management and the expanding processing industry that we have established based entirely on our planted forests. But they are not merely a source of wood. They provide a number of other goods and services including carbon sequestration, watershed protection, recreation, and rehabilitation of degraded land as well as serving as a basis for regional and national economic growth and development. It is also important to note that the planted forest industry is entirely market driven and the Government does not provide any assistance.
Planted forestry is big business in New Zealand. Currently the industry accounts for 4 percent of GDP with an annual output of $5 billion. It is the third largest export sector, earning 12 percent of total export income, and directly employing twenty-five thousand people and generating an additional one hundred thousand jobs. New Zealand is a significant forestry nation within the Pacific Rim region, with a market share of 8.8 percent of total Asia Pacific forest products trade.
The development of this large planted forest estate as well as processing the logs to derive high value products has been supported by the world recognised forest research institution based here in Rotorua. I presume you all are familiar with our Forest Research Institute, as you've been there for the meeting of the Forum during the last day and a half.
This is the current New Zealand situation. But this will change dramatically in time to come. Our current annual wood supply of 17 million cubic metres will double by 2015 and will continue to rise thereafter and potentially reach 50-60 million cubic metres a year by 2025.
It is important that we manage this resource in a sustainable manner. That is why our industry has worked closely with other major players to promote sustainable forest management and develop certification. The New Zealand forest industry is developing its own Verification of Environment Performance (VEP) scheme that, I understand, will be in place before the end of the year. It has been developed to provide a cost effective performance verification and communication tool for use by New Zealand forestry industry companies. It will be third party audited, controlled by an independent board of management and linked by mutual recognition protocols with other similar processes in the US and the EU. It is ISO based and WTO compatible.
Already there are over forty different national certification systems either in operation or under development. This proliferation of national schemes - which have emerged to recognise unique, local forest types and variable operational conditions - could lead to an increase in environmental non-tariff barriers to trade. I therefore applaud the leadership shown by the private sector, through the International Forest Industry Roundtable, to facilitate the development of a mutual recognition framework. It will help the international market place better understand and appreciate these different certification schemes.
I also want to speak briefly on another topic in your agenda, Climate Change. The role of forests as carbon sinks is particularly significant in New Zealand. Current forecasts indicate that some 130 metric tonnes in CO2 equivalent will be sequestered in the first commitment period 2008-2012 in New Zealand’s so called ‘Kyoto Forest’ (new forests established after 1 January 1990). The size of this carbon credit and its potential economic value present some interesting challenges as the Government considers its policy response to the emissions reduction targets established by the Kyoto Protocol.
The shape of this response will be influenced by the international negotiations to be completed later this year in The Hague. The deliberations of the IPCC Plenary meeting in Montreal, Canada, this week where the Special Report on Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry is discussed and approved will provide an important input to the negotiations. I note that the FAO has been an important contributor to this Special Report.
In summary, I have attempted to do two things in my brief speech. First, to reflect on the approach New Zealand has taken to sustainable forest management by developing a large planted forest resource that has enabled us to protect our natural forest and provide the basis of a significant economic sector. Second, to show how keenly we are interested in your discussions, which centre on matters that are very close to our hearts.
In conclusion, it gives me great pleasure to formally open this forty-first meeting of the FAO Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products. I wish you success in your deliberations.


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