The New Zealand government wants to convert biomass production
Presenting the draft Forest and Woodworking Industries Transformation Plan in Christchurch, the Forest Minister said it will encourage innovation and investment, and unlock the future of forestry and woodworking.
“Increasing New Zealand’s onshore timber processing capacity and investing in the development of our domestic woody biomass industry are two target areas that will drive growth in the sector, create jobs and reduce emissions across the economy,” said Forest Minister Stuart Nash.
“We need to move from being a commodity producer to high-quality, low-carbon products and jobs for kiwifruit — all of which are critical to our continued economic recovery.
“This roadmap will lead to a future where high-rise buildings are built from engineered wood, where wood-derived fuel powers our planes, trains and boats, and where a range of products such as medicines are also made from our forests,” he said.
The plan was welcomed by the forest owners’ association, which has been part of the consultation process so far.
FOA President Grant Dodson said the plan is positive and hopefully would result in action.
“In terms of bioenergy, in terms of replacing coal and other fossil fuels with wood energy. So in terms of carbon embedded in wood products that go into long-lasting structures like buildings, we’re trying to encourage more of these multi-story engineered-wood buildings that we’re starting to see. In general, more wood is used in construction, which keeps the carbon contained in these wooden buildings embedded in them for a significant amount of time,” he said.
Dodson said the plan must attract outside investors to build new mills, and to be successful it must involve overcoming obstacles such as wood accumulation to have enough wood in one place and resource commitment issues that start -ups could deter .
He said while some wood processing plants have expanded in recent years, many more have closed.
“We’re not very good at greenfield developments.”
Nash said the plan also included the Crown “leading the way in researching and supporting alternative species, including helping nurseries increase supply and reducing costs, exploring how government can invest in new sawmills, to process low-grade wood, and establishing a presence in key overseas markets to increase demand for our wood products.”
Consultation on the New Zealand government’s transformation plan runs until the end of next month.