Forestry needs positive change

Businesses involved in forestry should be prospering, as both domestic and export wood markets have been strong for some time.

 

This is in stark contrast to 3-to-4 years ago, when we faced a safety crisis: a threat that required changes to be made. Now, as an industry, we have opportunities to make change again, this time to enhance our work places, the wider industry and the environment.

 

Changing our external image. Everyone who works in forestry or has practical knowledge of it, is usually proud of what they do and how they do it. Outside our industry, the image is less clear and does not show how we offer rewarding work, safe communication, safe work places and sustain a clean, green environment for the country as a whole.

 

 There is a need for much greater efforts to be made by industry leaders to enhance our image. Perhaps the Forest Growers Levy Trust could fund active promotions to make the public more aware of our economic, social and environmental credibility. The NZ Wood billboards around the country are a good start, but more is needed.

 

The government has turned to Minister, Paula Bennett, to ensure New Zealand can meet its climate change obligations. It is absolutely imperative that our industry leaders offer forest-based solutions to the Minister, so that forest planting is part of that commitment. Land-based industry productivity will be improved – not reduced – by a doubling in the size of our forest estate. Our environment would be the winner and our international obligations would be largely met….……..for the time being.

 

Will our industry lobby the Minister to make real on-the-ground land use changes to buy their favourites in the dairy industry time to solve emissions from the commercial herd?  A few weeks ago, an independent study, the ‘Vivid Economics’ report, commissioned by a wide group of politicians of all persuasions found the solution to be quite clear.

They said: “Forestry is the back-stop. If the hoped-for advances in reducing biological emissions disappoint, that could be offset by more aggressive afforestation. Vivid sees scope for up to another 2.3 million hectares of forest to be planted, two-thirds of it plantation forests (doubling the present area) and the rest natives.

 

“For it is only the expansion of the forest estate that provides an offset to emissions. Once the trees are harvested and replaced, it just cycles around a new equilibrium level.  Afforestation buys valuable time but the time has to be used to come up with permanent ways of eliminating emissions.”

Source: Brian Fallow, The Country, 30 March...

 

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