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Foresters to discuss a better future

Foresters to discuss a better future

Over 100 forest sector stakeholders are gathering in Wellington next week to discuss developing a national forest policy. They want the policy to be accepted and used by the forestry sector — and for it to guide the Government’s thinking on forestry.

“We believe New Zealand needs a comprehensive long term forest policy, to recognise the long term nature of forests and the many benefits forests provide to society. Many services provided by forestry are not provided by other land uses, and forestry is too often undervalued. This is the reason many other countries have national forest policies,” says Garth Cumberland, chair of the project.

“New Zealand forests are vital to our environment, economy and society. Plantation forests provide the raw material for our third largest export earner and provide employment for thousands of New Zealanders. Our forests provide most of our water, provide homes for native fauna and flora, protect erosion prone soils, give people places to enjoy and enhance the beauty of our landscapes.

“Forests also mitigate the effect of climate change. All forests absorb and store huge quantities of carbon. However, there is a massive opportunity for our forests to do more for us — large areas of eroding hill country could be planted with trees — thereby storing much more carbon and providing many more jobs.

“However, in the last 11 years, the area of plantation forests has declined, where previously it was increasing. In addition, our native forests are under attack from introduced pests and diseases — and funding to restore them is woefully inadequate. Other forms of land use are being favoured in New Zealand, and this hinders the growth of the forestry sector.

“We disagree with the Government’s opinion that New Zealand does not need a forest policy. We believe it is essential to establish a policy framework for protecting, enhancing, managing and using our forests,” says Mr Cumberland.

A national forest policy could:

• give confidence to investors in forests and wood processing

• encourage the use of renewable forest products and help facilitate trade

• provide guidance for more consistency and stability of Government regulation of the forestry sector.

The Forest Policy Project was started in 2014 by group of prominent forestry professionals, who are working to recommend future strategies and policies for forests and their use.

ENDS

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