New Zealand government aims to transform biomass production
The Minister of Forestry launched the draft Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan in Christchurch and said it would boost innovation and investment and unlock the future of forestry and wood processing.
"Increasing New Zealand's onshore wood processing capability and investing in developing our domestic woody biomass industry are two target areas that will drive sector growth, create jobs, and reduce emissions across the economy," Forestry Minister Stuart Nash said.
"We need to move from a commodity resource producer to creating high value, low carbon products and jobs for Kiwis - all of which are vital to our ongoing economic recovery.
"This roadmap will lead to a future where high-rise buildings are built with engineered wood, where our planes, trains and boats are powered with fuel derived from wood, and a range of products, such as pharmaceuticals, are also produced from our forests," he said.
The plan has been welcomed by the Forest Owners Association which has been part of the consultation process to date.
FOA President Grant Dodson said the plan was positive and it would hopefully result in action.
"In terms of bioenergy, in terms of displacing coal and other fossil fuel with wood energy. In terms of carbon embedded in wood products going into long life structures such as buildings, so trying to encourage more of these multi-storey engineered wood buildings that we're starting to see. Generally more use of wood in construction therefore embedding the carbon that's in those wood buildings into them for some considerable time," he said.
Dodson said the plan needs to attract outside investors to build new mills and for there to be success it will be a matter of overcoming road blocks like wood aggregation so there is enough wood in one place, and resource consent issues which can deter start-ups.
He said while a few wood processing plants had expanded in recent years, many more have closed down.
"We are not very good at greenfield developments."
Nash said the plan also included the Crown "leading the way in researching and supporting alternative species including helping nurseries increase supply and lower costs, exploring how government can co-invest in new sawmills to process lower grades of log, and establishing a presence in key overseas markets to increase demand for our wood products."
Consultation on New Zealand's government's transformation plan runs until the end of next month.