Nelson's Forestry Industry Under Government Spotlight

  • David Carter
Associate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control

The Associate Minister for Food and Fibre, Hon David Carter, will spend a day in Nelson today accompanied by senior Government officials, to investigate how the local forestry industry is faring.

"Nelson is a good snapshot of where the forestry sector is at in New Zealand. The region has a diverse range of forestry players, from large international corporations to smaller New Zealand-owned manufacturing and sawmilling operations, and we've been invited to spend some time on the ground listening to their views."

Mr Carter will be accompanied to Nelson by Government officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Occupational Safety and Health, the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Commerce.

He said the day would concentrate on encouraging free and frank discussion.

"I imagine high on the agenda will be the coming APEC round, and the urgent need for better access to international markets for our forestry products."

"The Government is committed to improving market access for our producers, and we will be making it a priority this year to get support for the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers on our timber exports."

The day-long tour will include stops at Carter Holt Harvey's Eves Valley factory, one of Weyhaeuser New Zealand's forests and a presentation at Russell Furniture's factory in Tahunanui.

The New Zealand Forest Industries Council is hosting the tour and the Minister and his officials will start the day with a briefing from the Council at Nelson Polytechnic's Richmond Campus.

Mr Carter said New Zealand's forestry industry was growing rapidly, and it was critical Government and the industry talked regularly to address associated growth issues as they occurred.

"We are facing a rapidly increasing supply of timber, and we need to work hard to ensure we have the markets for our wood."

"In Nelson for example a whopping 70 percent increase in available timber is expected in the next year. The local market won't be able to absorb all this, so your region will have to look offshore for markets."

"Areas such as Nelson also have to address the infrastructural stresses a growing forestry sector can place on their community, through increased roading usage and water and port access demands."

"Forestry holds exciting prospects for New Zealand, particularly in improving regional employment, but we can't turn a blind eye to potential problems. We need good forward planning and constant dialogue between Government and the industry."