Proposed Legislation to implement a National Wood Legality Assurance System
In July 2020 the Ministry for Primary Industries released a proposal to implement a National Wood Legality Assurance system.
Farm Forestry Timbers welcome this proposal and fully support strengthening of New Zealand’s wood legality assurance position.
This paper seeks agreement to develop a Bill to amend the Forests Act 1949 to establish a wood legality assurance system that:
- reflects New Zealand’s commitment to reduce the global trade in illegally harvested wood; and
- ensures the legality of New Zealand wood products.
Relation to government priorities
The proposals in this paper relate to the Government’s priority of ‘creating an international reputation we can be proud of’ and ‘supporting thriving and sustainable regions’.
New Zealand is committed to preventing the global trade in illegally harvested wood products by eliminating illegal wood imports and ensuring New Zealand’s own wood products meet trading partners’ legality requirements.
Forestry is the third largest exporter in the primary sector, generating NZ$6.9 billion in the year ending 30 June 2019. The efficiency and integrity of our forestry supply chain is critical for both domestic processing and New Zealand’s reputation as a high-quality exporter of wood products.
The illegal harvesting of wood is a significant problem globally, contributing to deforestation and ecosystem degradation, with wide-reaching environmental, economic and social impacts. New Zealand’s wood product imports have increased by approximately 70 percent over the last decade, to NZ$2.4 billion for the year ending June 2019. This increases the risk of New Zealand being a conduit for the illegal wood trade due to a lack of wood legality assurance measures. Mitigating the reputational risk to New Zealand wood is a priority for the sector.
New Zealand exporters need to demonstrate wood legality in an increasing number of export markets. Larger wood producers are able to use third party certification schemes; however, these are not generally a cost-effective assurance mechanism for small forest owners who are providing an increasing portion of the annual harvest.
The introduction of a wood legality assurance system with robust standards and appropriate verification measures that provide oversight of both domestically produced and imported wood is expected to deliver a significant net benefit of approximately $1.15 billion over 10 years across the supply chain.
Key industry stakeholders such as the NZ Forest Owners Association, NZ Farm Forestry Association and NZ Wood Council have sought a government legality scheme for a number of years to address market access issues. Targeted engagement on this proposal with key industry stakeholders shows there is wide industry support for strengthening New Zealand’s wood legality assurance position.
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