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Forestry industry moving to establish a new path

10th November 2006 Press release

Forestry industry moving to establish a new path

Minister of Forestry, Jim Anderton gave the keynote address at the Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) at Rotorua today and said a new way of working in the forestry industry needed to be forged to ensure that New Zealand’s “wood culture” is revitalised and enhanced.

"I am very confident about the future of forestry but we need to create a new tradition for forestry that is not based on the boom and bust cycle. It needs to provide clear career paths for young people and sound rates of return for investors – right through the value chain.

"It has been estimated by FICA that there is around $1 billion dollars of capital assets employed in the wood-harvesting sector – it may be higher. With this level of investment it is not really appropriate for forestry owners to just turn the tap on and off to suit export market aspirations. The whole process needs to be more sustainable and robust and this is what we are working towards in partnership together," Jim Anderton said.

"The Labour-Progressive Government continues to be a strong supporter of the forestry sector as exhibited through initiatives such as the Wood Processing Strategy and currently the Forest Industry Development Agenda (FIDA) with Government working collaboratively with industry to stimulate growth.

"FIDA, through its market development fund, has provided significant support to industry groups to investigate new markets, enhance industry awareness in the areas of design and market intelligence, and build greater awareness of the value of New Zealand’s radiata pine in the domestic and export markets.

"The government has also invested $7 million to create a training centre of excellence in wood processing – the RADI centre. We have got radiata pine accepted into the Chinese building code and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has worked with the industry to open a marketing beachhead in Shanghai.

"We need to help improve the public image of forestry to attract young people to the industry. Forestry contractors have strong alcohol and drug free policies, a much improved safety record and promote positive lifestyle attributes. In many ways a career in forestry is an attractive employment option for those seeking challenging outdoor work in the primary production sector.

" Wood is a miracle product. It can substitute for concrete, steel and aluminium and architects have barely begun to imagine its potential as a construction material. However, we need much more certainty for the sector. FICA members need stable forest ownership and the ongoing maintenance of professional and ethical forest management practices.

"The future for the New Zealand forestry industry is strong with predictions that the domestic harvest will increase by over 6 million m3 over the next four years. There are also positive signs with domestic log prices up slightly and small improvements in export log prices," Jim Anderton said.

Ends

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