Forestry industry to promote wood

29 Jun 2006

A meeting of forestry industry leaders representing growers, processors, manufacturers and contractors, sponsored by industry umbrella organisation WoodCo, has decided to undertake a multi-million dollar programme to develop and promote the use of wood in building and construction in New Zealand.

"Consumers tend to think that wood is already extensively used in this country, and it is, especially in residential construction, but the proportion of wood-use in some areas of construction, especially non-residential and commercial construction is low, but with the potential to increase," says WoodCo chairman Tony Johnston.

"What’s more, there is a large and totally renewable resource of wood building up in our forests ready to be used right here, adding value in New Zealand, as forests planted 20 and 30 years ago mature.

"It is the age of wood. Not only is it an attractive, flexible and natural product with a strong heritage of use, creating employment and sustaining communities in New Zealand, but it also has great environmental values. Forests counterbalance the burning of fossil fuels, and assist us meet our obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Forests are renewable and therefore wood is a sustainable resource."

Details of the programme are yet to be finalised. However, it is likely to include generic promotion of wood as well as specific activities to support particular uses of the product.

"Most wood for construction in New Zealand is used as structural framing lumber — this is especially true of Radiata pine. We will be looking to extend its use in non-residential buildings. Its use for appearance functions such as exterior cladding, windows, doors and floors has diminished somewhat in recent times and we will be looking to regain some of that lost ground."

Wood promotions of this nature have taken place in a number of other countries. Finland, which is the international stand-out example, has doubled its consumption of sawn lumber over the last 15 years, even though it started from quite a high base in 1993. In fact, at that time consumption in Finland was similar to New Zealand, but has leapt ahead since.

The UK, Canada and Australia have also developed programmes and the European Union is in the process of doing so.

"Wood is absolutely coming into its own as a building and decorative material with the concern about global warming and the need to concentrate on renewable resources.

"The minister of forestry, Hon Jim Anderton, made it clear to the industry meeting that the government is right behind this type of promotion and it is likely that government will help kick-start the programme through forestry industry development funding," says Mr Johnston.

The programme is not expected to get underway until later in the year or early 2007.

For more information, contact Tony Johnston, chairman, WoodCo, tel 029 444 9495