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Timber Imports Killing Local Industry

6 November 2005

Timber Imports Killing Local Industry

New Zealanders imported in excess of $350 million of timber products in the year to 30 June 2005 at the expense of local timber growers, suppliers and furniture makers.

Roger May of the newly formed Specialty Timber Council (STC New Zealand) said today that the amount New Zealand imports each year has almost doubled since 1999.

“New Zealand private indigenous forest owners are subject to high standards of management, monitoring and enforcement but the imported wood is exempt from all that. That is why it is now almost impossible for us to compete with imported timber.”

Mr May said all timber should be sustainably produced, and he called on the Government to impose sustainability requirements on imported timber equivalent to that imposed on New Zealand timber.

His call comes ahead of a two-day “Smarter Buying: Better Future” sustainable procurement conference in Wellington on November 7 and 8 sponsored by the Ministry for the Environment as part of the Government’s “Towards Sustainable Practice” campaign.

“Most Kiwis would call themselves conservationists and value the country’s clean and green image. Kiwis support the conservation of 4.5 million hectares of our own public indigenous forests and yet purchase the likes of Indonesian Kwila, Canadian Western Red Cedar, American White Oak, or Fijian Kauri without a thought to the sustainability credentials of that timber,” Mr May said.

“Timber importers and consumers are able to buy from anywhere in the world with no thought as to whether the source is sustainable,” Mr May said. New Zealand native timber makes the finest of furniture, is sustainably managed, would assist our own economy and resurrect a “struggling industry”.

A study earlier this year revealed that few, if any, imported timber products arrived in New Zealand with credible sustainability credentials. The study’s results indicated that most New Zealand timber consumers don’t know or don’t care about how forests are managed, how timber is produced, or who makes the timber products they buy.


Spending by New Zealanders on imported solid wood products has risen 13 percent in the 12 months to 30 June and increased 43 percent over the last 10 years. Kiwis spent over $190 million on imported furniture alone, up from only $57 million in 1996. “Very few of these products are arriving with any credible sustainability credentials showing where the timber came from and our high quality timber manufacturing sector is collapsing,” said Mr May.

STC New Zealand

STC New Zealand was established for the purpose of encouraging and facilitating communication and networking between the different parts of the forest, timber and manufacturing sub-sectors within the high quality special-purpose timber product market.

Among other things, the organisation will be taking steps to inform the public about the value of New Zealand’s own productive forests, New Zealand-grown special-purpose timbers and the many facets of sustainability and forest certification.

ENDS

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