Trees can play a lead role in New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions economy, and this is reflected in a new request for research into innovative ways to use wood fibre, announced by Forestry Minister Shane Jones at the blessing of the new government forestry hub site in Rotorua last month.
Te Uru Rakau, also known as Forestry New Zealand, with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group have issued a ‘request for proposal’ – worth $250,000 to $300,000 – seeking a commercially-oriented report on viable opportunities for investment in biobased products and biorefinery processing technology.
These investments must use wood and wood fibre and be internationally competitive.
“We know about the ability of trees to absorb carbon and we’ve invested heavily in rapidly strengthening our forestry estate through initiatives such as the One Billion Trees programme and recent changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme.
“These forests will act as a carbon sink in the short-to-medium term,” says Shane.
“However, they are also vital to increasing wood and fibre supply during the next 20 to 30 years as we position our forestry system, or parts of this system, to manufacture a wide range of products that will help us adapt to climate change and meet our emissions target.
“We know that consumers want alternatives to concrete, steel and plastic.
“In theory, everything that can be made from oil or non-renewable resources can be made from trees. The big question is one of commercial viability and how the big ideas can be made into reality.”
The Minister says many countries have examined options for future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and defined a bioeconomy solution in which forests and forest products play a significant role.
“Through this call for research, I’d like to see a report that will identify investible opportunities for the production and manufacturing of high value, wood fibre-based bioproducts that will bring innovation and employment to our regions, and increase onshore processing of logs.
“I’m excited to see the opportunities that emerge and will help establish forestry as the cornerstone of our future economy.”
The request for proposals has been released online through the Government Electronic Tender website: https://www.gets.govt.nz/