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Small foresters to have big impact in Nelson/Marlb

Wednesday 20 September 2006

Small forest owners will have big impact in Nelson/ Marlborough

Small forest growers will have a major impact on future wood availability in the Nelson/Marlborough region, creating both opportunities and challenges, reports the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).

The Nelson/Marlborough Forest Industry and Wood Availability Forecasts report was released today. It is the first in a national series of new forecasts for local industries.

The region had the potential to increase the annual forestry harvest over the next 20 years from 2.3 million cubic metres in 2005, to some 3.2 to 3.5 million cubic metres, MAF Policy Regional Team Leader Chas Perry said.

The report shows that future wood availability increases will mainly depend on the harvesting decisions of the region’s 700 small-scale forest growers, which are mainly concentrated in Marlborough.

Any such increases in wood availability would provide an opportunity for the local processing industry to expand, Mr Perry said.

He stressed, however, that increased wood flow would not automatically lead to additional processing capacity.

“New processing opportunities will proceed only if the regulatory environment is enabling, and if the range of processed products can successfully compete on price and quality in international markets.”

He added the forest industry “needed strong, positive leadership and innovative people who are prepared to make bold investment decisions”, and that “any new processing proposals would need to involve an inclusive approach with the local authorities and the communities”.

The report highlights several challenges for the local forest industry.

Mr Perry said the Resource Management Act had proved to be a “costly and uncertain process” that had encouraged forest companies to expand existing plants rather than build new facilities. Engagement by the industry in the 10-year reviews of the councils’ Resource Management Plans would be very important, he said.

Other challenges faced by the industry included the short-term uncertainty around the future ownership of the Weyerhaeuser Joint Venture forests and sawmill, and the potential sale of Nelson’s Carter Holt Harvey forests. These two companies own 50 percent of the forestry resource in the region and also have significant sawmilling capability. The MAF report warns that sales may result in the fragmentation of the industry, which could “weaken the leadership and profile of the forest industry at a local level”.

A future shortage of skilled labour and the lack of a collective body in Nelson to promote the local industry were also identified as potential constraints for the local industry.

On the upside, Mr Perry said the Nelson/Marlborough forest industry had many attributes that could help it develop in the future.

“The region has a mature forest industry with a well-managed forest estate. It also has a good mix of wood processing plants including sawmills, a laminated veneer lumber plant, a world-scale medium density fibreboard plant, and the largest post and pole processing plant in New Zealand.”

He said the industry had been very innovative in the past, giving the examples of GoldenEdge Liteboard, which is 20 percent lighter than regular MDF, and the setting up of Zindia to export logs from Marlborough direct to Indian sawmillers.


To view the report in full, go to: http://www.maf.govt.nz/statistics/primaryindustries/forestry/


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