If New Zealand’s ambition is to be a zero carbon economy by 2050, then it must nurture its wood industry.
That’s the message that came from Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of NZ when it held its Rotorua Regional Meeting on September 10.
WPMA chair Brian Stanley says many industries claim to be driving towards lower emissions but none have the low carbon profile of the wood sector.
“No other major industry in NZ can deliver carbon sequestration, carbon storage and emissions reduction like the wood industry…and the industry now has independent, third-party certification extending right from the forest to the marketplace to prove that our wood-based packaging and construction products do the right thing by the environment.
“Our customers in NZ and overseas expect no less.”
At the early-September meeting in Rotorua, WPMA highlighted that both major international certification programmes for forestry: Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification, and Forest Stewardship Council, guarantee that wood products from NZ come from sustainably-managed forests.
In addition to this, WPMA has just launched its Environmental Product Declarations for wood products. These EPDs provide independent assurance of the environmental credentials of wood, says Brian.
“It’s crucial that our customers understand the significance of these environmental guarantees; this is why we will, very shortly, also be launching environmental guidance to architects and engineers as part of the WPMA Wood Design Guide Series.”
And while the NZ industry is getting on and proving its worth in terms of environmental protection, Brian says it is being seriously undermined by overseas subsidies distorting the NZ market.
“If the Government wants a zero-carbon manufacturing sector creating good jobs in the regions – and the NZ wood industry is a perfect example of this – then it must play a much more active role in helping it to grow.
“The Minister of Finance has made it crystal clear in his directions to the Overseas Investment Office that he wants foreign investors in forestry to support local wood processors and manufacturers.
“It’s disturbing to see that 90 per cent of OIO applications to buy forests in NZ in the last couple of years make absolutely no attempt to do this. Is the OIO listening to the Minister I wonder?”
Brian warns a zero-carbon economy isn’t just going to happen. “It needs to be driven by every mechanism that the Government has at its disposal.
“The NZ wood industry is one of the few sectors delivering a triple-bottom-line of regional wealth, strong community and environmental enhancement. Let’s be sure we are doing everything we can to grow it.”