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Half a million hectares of forests sold

Half a million hectares of forests sold

The sale of over 500,000 hectares of New Zealand forests to overseas interests have been approved by the Overseas Investment Office since 2012, says Labour’s Forestry spokesperson Stuart Nash.

“At a time when we are seeing an ever-increasing volume of unprocessed logs from foreign-owned and controlled forests heading overseas without a cent of value added, I now call on the government to strictly enforce the terms and conditions of the Overseas Investment Act and ensure that value over-and-above that which could be added by retaining forest land in New Zealand ownership is undertaken.

“Section 17 of The Overseas Investment Act 2005 sets out very clear criteria that the government must consider when approving an application for the purchase of ‘sensitive land’. These include whether the overseas investment is likely to create new jobs, introduce new technology or innovation or increase the processing of primary products.

“There is no doubt, foreign direct investment is vital to the growth of the timber processing industry, but the level of investment in downstream processing by foreign investors is minimal. This needs to change if we are to ensure that the spirit and intent of the Overseas Investment Act is to be met.

‘’The past three years saw overseas investment in New Zealand’s forests from Malaysia, United States, Switzerland, China, Germany, Japan, Austria, Canada, Liechtenstein, UK, Italy and South Korea, says Stuart Nash.

“It’s interesting to note, however, that the largest single investment in downstream processing is being undertaken by a wholly-owned New Zealand company at the Red Stag mill just outside Rotorua. A bit more of this sort of investment by some of the overseas investors would be very welcome. This is really needed in provincial areas that are struggling but have a large forestry resource, like the East Coast of the North Island.”


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