New measures for wood processing boost

  • Hon Shane Jones

The Government will further strengthen New Zealand’s wood processing sector as part of our focus on ‘value over volume’ in our forestry industry, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

Minister Jones will today meet with forestry representatives in Northland to signal new measures to help the industry, including a log buyer registration scheme that would see more logs processed onshore and provide better job certainty in regional communities.

“Our commercial forestry and wood processing sector faces significant challenges,” Shane Jones said.

“It is a fragmented industry and there is significant value to be gained by increasing cooperation between those who own the land, own the trees, process them, and export them. The focus has historically been on volume rather than adding value and high export prices have created strong incentives to export unprocessed logs.

“The Government is also well aware of looming log supply constraints for domestic processors over the coming decades,” Shane Jones said.

Today, two research reports commissioned by Te Uru Rākau from Forme Consulting and Scion into log supply issues in Northland were also released. The reports note the region will see restricted supply worsen in the early 2020s, with shortages in Canterbury, Southland and the southern North Island emerging in the late 2020s.

“The package of measures I have asked my officials to explore won’t fix things overnight but they will help provide surety of supply and assurance of the sustainability of New Zealand wood for markets.

“The most significant initiative would be the introduction of a professional registration scheme for log buyers as well as a standardised sales and purchase contract.

“This would ensure small growers receive impartial and comprehensive advice from log buyers and provide for redress in the event of unprofessional behaviour.

“I also propose to create a national definition of wood legality, which will support access for our forestry exports internationally.

“The global illegal log trade is a substantial and an ongoing challenge, which is undermining and threatening progress on sustainable development and climate change objectives.

“We’re also going to increase the flow of transparent information for the sector such as publishing a harvest and sales information series and help small forest growers pool their resources to achieve economies of scale.

“From my regular discussions with those in the industry, I know they understand the need for this nationally-focused approach to provide certainty and longevity for the wider sector.

“Cabinet has directed officials to pursue these measures and I intend to report back early next year.  

“This Government is committed to forestry as an industry that can play an important role in regional economic development, help Māori fulfil their aspirations for their land and deliver environmental benefits,” Shane Jones said. 

Notes to editors: A copy of the ‘Preparing the Forest System for the Future’ Cabinet paper can be found here.