Biosecurity and ForestryJuly, 2009.
The proposed industry co-funding approach to biosecurity, especially for incursion response measures, poses some special problems for many forest growers. While the mainstream radiata pine and Douglas fir growers generally do a good job of monitoring forest health and responding to issues, responding to incursions poses a huge burden for growers of alternative species.
The following points need to be recognised:
1. There are real advantages in having a diverse plantation forestry estate in New Zealand, both environmental and economic. We still import large volumes of specialty timbers, especially western red cedar, kwila and various other hardwoods. Most of these timber resources are under considerable pressure; many are being unsustainably harvested and it is believed that a significant portion of imported kwila is from illegal sources. This is likely to positively influence the economic competitiveness and motivation for growing specialty timbers in New Zealand.
NZFFA have plenty of evidence that high value timber species can be successfully grown in New Zealand and we also know that the wider use of these specialty timbers can considerably lower our greenhouse gas and energy footprint. It might also be noted that the imported eucalypt timbers used in Waitangi park on the Wellington waterfront cost up to $5,000 per cubic metre.
2. A dedicated effort by NZFFA and its members over the last 30 years has allowed a select range of special purpose timber species to emerge with clear commercial potential. However, funding biosecurity cover is just not possible within an emerging industry comprised of under-capitilised growers with an income stream many years away. It appears that small growers will just have to take their chances, a situation we consider grossly inadequate and lacking foresight.
3. The radiata pine industry in New Zealand was developed with huge support from central government. The Forest Service developed the forest growing systems along with the majority of forests, and the Forest Research Institiute did much of the associated research in genetic improvement, wood properties and utilization, while the Waipa and Kawerau operations were set up by political fiat. Similarly, forestry has been strongly supported by Governments throughout the developed world, in large measure because the time scale of forestry is regarded as too long by most private investors. In the case of New Zealand's "alternative" species resource, much of this work has been done by small growers and we consider this considerable investment to be at risk. Taking into account forestry's special circumstances, we ask that biosecurity is delivered by central government in a manner which secures this investment into the future.