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New Zealand aid project graduates

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

16 February 2006

New Zealand aid project graduates

One of New Zealand’s most significant and long-standing aid projects has recently graduated to be a full-scale commercial forest plantation of the highest standard, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said.

“This Bukidnon project began in 1986, following an agreement between the NZ and Philippines governments to develop a commercially and environmentally sustainable forest plantation while providing a model for further commercial forestry in the Philippines.

“Over the last 20 years New Zealand through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and latterly NZAID, has provided over $15 million dollars of funding towards the project. A complete evaluation of the work had just taken place and the results tell me that this was money well spent.

“The resulting forestry operation is now assessed as up to the highest standards seen in Asia. This is a real credit to its staff and to the many others in the work of New Zealand and the Philippines who have been associated with the project.

“By the start of 2005, the Bukidnon project had converted 7000 hectares of degraded grassland into plantation forests. The forest is now operating entirely self-sufficiently and has made significant achievements in business planning, harvesting, forest maintenance and community relations,” said Mr Peters.

The forest employs 27 permanent employees and 700 casual contractors. These figures represent about 1% of the 19,369 people employed in the area.

“In a region where illegal logging and exploitation is destroying natural habitats and placing local populations at risk, providing an example of environmentally sustainable timber is especially important. This is an area where New Zealand had led the way and it is very pleasing to know we can make a difference internationally,” said Mr Peters.

New Zealand, through NZAID, currently provides $46 million direct aid to Asia annually.

ENDS

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