Value of forestry underestimatedSave
By David Porter
The forestry and logging sector is worth $1.4 billion to GDP, making a substantially larger contribution than either the sheepmeat or beef sectors, says a new report released in Rotorua today.
The report was commissioned by the New Zealand Forest Owners Association and Farm Forestry Association from NZIER.
Forest Owners Association chairman Peter Clark said the public had underestimated the forest sector's role and importance.
"Our sector is growing faster than horticulture," he said. "For the first time since 1882 ... the value of our forest product exports is now exceeding the total value of red meat exports. That represents a sea change in our primary export mix."
The Ministry of Primary Industries forecasts that New Zealand forest product export returns will reach $6.15 billion by 2020, from $5.14 billion in 2016. Increasing returns from sawn timber, wood panels, pulp and paper, would all contribute to the growth.
However, NZIER noted the fact that the significant environmental contribution of forestry was not usually factored into its economic value, and the lack of a ministry or department dedicated to forestry, were both constraints on the industry.
NZIER recommended the establishment of a "satellite account" to reflect the growing importance of this sector. Satellite accounts extend existing information on industries to include social and environmental values, and would assist in reflecting forestry's wider benefit to New Zealand, the report said.
Mr Clark said currently everybody, including NZIER, was making assumptions based on some studies in some regions.
"The Government's Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-20 set 2017 as the target date to investigate the need and potential to produce New Zealand environmental-economic accounts," he said.
"So in implementing this undertaking, we'd love to see the Government put the environmental ruler across our forest sector."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said Rotorua Lakes Council was the first and so far only local body to promote a Wood First Policy.