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Forest industry backs research for growth

For immediate release

14 August 2001

Forest industry backs research for growth

The forest industry’s goal of creating a $20 billion plantation-based forest industry employing 60,000 people and contributing 14 percent to New Zealand’s GDP by 2025, has come a step closer with the announcement of its research, science and technology strategy.

The strategy was developed following widespread consultation within the industry and with government agencies, particularly with the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST).

It identifies the type of research to be undertaken to build the industry, and sets out the principles and mechanisms needed to increase investment in plantation-based forestry, both by the industry and government. The resulting programmes will provide lasting benefits for the New Zealand economy.

“New Zealand’s forestry sector is responding to the challenge laid down by the “Catching the Knowledge Wave” conference,” says New Zealand Forest Industries Council chair, Devon McLean. “We are answering the call for New Zealand to invest in innovation, and transform commodities into sustainable added-value products, based on the ongoing application of knowledge generated by research.

“The impact of research and development in the industry will be significant. We expect plantation forestry to transform itself into New Zealand’s number one industrial sector by 2025,” Mr McLean said.

Development of the strategy marks a key success for the whole of government’s approach to economic development, in which the Wood Processing Strategy Steering Group is working to accelerate the development of forest product and associated industries, to get the best value from the regional expansion in wood available for harvest.

“The Wood Processing Strategy has provided the wood processing industry with a high level political relationship that ensures government will continue to focus on enhancing the industry’s international competitiveness,” Mr McLean said. “Collaborative work undertaken in the Research Science and Technology Committee provides a model for the partnership approach to economic development.”

Key elements of the strategy are as follows:

- The basis of the strategy is strategic market intelligence, which determines the direction of the industry by identifying market needs and opportunities.

- The strategy distinguishes between the needs of existing and future plantation resources because of the different approach and timelines required of each component.

- Research for both components is segmented into three “horizons” applying both to existing and future resource -

Business as Usual - in which research concentrates on supporting or defending a business/sectors current position (e.g. building skills, capability, quality). This research will be predominantly funded by the industry.

Added-value - in which research focuses on enhanced product performance, differentiation, or improved functionality (e.g. introducing new process technology, developing the resource and materials/new forest management techniques, development of new species). This research will be predominately funded on an equal basis between the industry and FRST.

Transformational - in which research is focused on creating opportunities outside the realm of the business or sector’s existing operations (e.g. new or modified processes, transformational process technology, non-wood or fibre products/geonomics and genetic manipulation). Predominantly funded by FRST, with industry consultation and additional funding by early adopter companies.

Pan-industry - in addition, there will be pan-industry research platforms built around key issues such as wood/fibre properties and wood quality, strategic market intelligence, market access, climate change, sustainable forest management, bio-security etc.

The objective of the strategy is to meet the New Zealand Forestry Industries Council’s Vision 2025, of transforming the industry into a $20 billion business:

Year 2000 Year 2025

$5 billion outputs $20 billion outputs

4 percent of GDP 14 percent of GDP

22,000 employed (100,000 indirectly) 60,000 employed (250,000 indirectly)

$3.5 billion export earnings $14 billion export earnings

Third largest exporter (by value) Largest exporter (by value)

Top 20 global suppliers Top 5 global suppliers

1.7 million hectares 3.5-4 million hectares

17 million m3 harvest 40 million m3 harvest

$100 million supporting technologies industry $1 billion supporting technologies industry

ENDS

For further information:

„X James V. Griffiths, Chief Executive, New Zealand Forest Industries Council, Phone (04) 473-9220; Mobile 025 725 502

„X Andries Popping, Chair, NZFIC Research, Science & Technology Committee, Phone (09) 571 9800; Mobile 025 893 346


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