Day of Forests celebrated

21 March 2016

Today, the NZ Forest Owners Association is joining with forestry minister Hon Jo Goodhew and its colleagues in The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA) to celebrate the United Nations International Day of Forests. The global forest products industry contributes to sustainable development, ensuring that environmental, social and economic benefits are available to current and future generations.

Forests are essential to life on our planet. They provide clean air and water, and regulate climate. As renewable and recycable resources, forests are an important part of the solution to meeting global needs for foods, fuel, fiber, medicine and other products important to our daily lives.

The global forest products industry is inherently renewable. ICFPA members are commited to sustainable forest management with some 300 million hectares of certified areas from which a significant amount of wood fiber used by the industry is sourced.

"By following best practices, well-managed forests of all types are a positive contribution to the provision of distinct products and services that are essential for human well-being and development. Thus, our industry is helping to mitigate climate change while providing social inclusion," said ICFPA president Elizabeth de Carvalhaes.

Minister Goodhew welcomed the International Day of Forests 2016 as a chance to highlight the vital role that New Zealand's forests play in both protecting the environment and contributing to economic growth and prosperity.

"Our forests contribute to a number of important environmental and climate outcomes, by absorbing carbon, increasing biodiversity, and reducing erosion," she says.

"The government is supporting these outcomes through initiatives such as the Afforestation Grant Scheme, which aims to plant an additional 15,000 hectares of new forests, and the East Coast Erosion scheme, supporting planting on marginal land.

"The government is also working to complete the National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry. This initiative will streamline processes and increase efficiencies by providing forest growers with a consistent set of planning rules. It will also align with the goals outlined in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management," Mrs Goodhew says.

"Forests make a significant contribution to regional communities and the economy; with exports earning us around $5 billion every year, while employing roughly 20,000 people.

"With increasing global demand for timber and timber products, and forests around the globe under threat from a number of environmental factors, New Zealand is uniquely positioned to offer a sustainably managed plantation resource that can be transformed into a range of high value products.

"Forestry is already New Zealand's third largest primary industry export earner, and is set to increase returns further in coming years. The government is working with the sector as it refines its priorities for increasing the value of forestry exports, through more processing in New Zealand," says Mrs Goodhew.

The International Day of Forests is celebrated around the world to raise awareness of the importance of forests and trees in ensuring the sustainability of ecosystems, providing valuable goods and services, and supporting livelihoods.

The ICFPA's 5th Sustainability Progress Report (2015) highlights the industry's advancements on a range of sustainability indicators and focuses on the industry's contributions toward a green economy, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions intensity, the increase in sustainable forest management, and a high paper recycling rate.

The ICFPA represents more than 30 national and regional forest and paper associations around the world. Together, ICFPA members represent over 90 percent of global paper production and half of global wood production.

For more information about the sustainability of the global forest and paper industry, visit icfpa.org.