The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) today released the East Coast Forest Industry and Wood Availability Forecasts report which indicates a steady increase in wood availability for the region over the next 12 years; and potential for significantly greater increase through a 25 year period.
The forecasts show that the availability of radiata pine from the region will gradually increase from 1.1 to around 2 million cubic metres per year from 2008 to 2013, with the potential to increase to 3.4 million cubic metres per year after 2020 through to 2034. Most of the potential increase is from the small-scale forest growers who established forests during the 1990s.
“The projected increases in wood availability between 2008 and 2013 shows that, wood processing expansion demand in the region does exist, despite a drop-off in harvest intentions by large-scale forest owners for the latter part of the period” says John Vaney, Regional Team Leader for MAF Policy in Rotorua.
The current total wood processing capacity of the region’s wood processing plants is estimated to be about 450,000 cubic metres (roundwood equivalent) per year.
“The extent to which the region is able to benefit from the increased availability depends on the rate at which new wood processing comes on stream, market conditions, and the available port facilities and regional infrastructure to support the increased activity. The proactive approach taken by the Gisborne District Council in allocating land area zoned for forestry processing offers great opportunity for further development,” Mr Vaney said.
Substantial investment in upgrading road and bridge infrastructure in the region has also improved transportation capabilities and potential.
Julian Kohn, Chairman of the Eastland Wood Council says the report confirms that the East Coast wood supply region has an extensive forest growing industry with considerable potential for future utilisation and development.
“It also provides a clear signal that transport infrastructure and harvesting capacity in the region will continue to come under increasing pressure and that ongoing investment will be required in these areas,” Mr Kohn said.
“The Eastland Port will be pivotal to the long-term success and viability of the region’s forest industry and increasing the capability of the port will provide greater security to potential and existing processors” he said.
Lindsay McKenzie, CEO of the Gisborne District Council was pleased to see the report identifies other opportunities for the sector. These include potential for carbon sequestration related forestry, the use of wood residues for biofuels, electricity generation and as a fuel source to generate heat for downstream wood processing operations. “Forestry also helps address hill country erosion which is a severe problem for parts of the region,” said Mr McKenzie.
In the later part of the forecast period (post-2034), the total harvest is projected to decline. This is in line with the age structure of the current resource and due to the fact that these forecasts were based on no new plantings in the region.
The East Coast Forest Industry and Wood Availability Forecasts report is one of a series of publications on regional forestry industries and wood availability forecasts being produced by MAF. It is compiled in association with the region’s major forest growers and aims to assist with future regional forest industry planning.
A copy of the report can be found on the MAF website link: www.maf.govt.nz/mafnet/publications/wood-availability/east-coast/