11 Oct 2010

Wood industry 'set for major change'

7:30 am on 11 October 2010

A Canadian economist and bio-energy expert says new advances in technology and demand for greener products could transform New Zealand's forestry industry.

The head of resource economics and bioenergy at the Canadian Forestry Service, Rory Gilsenan is in New Zealand this week.

Mr Gilsenan is involved in a study in Canada assessing the economic feasibility and market for high tech wood products that could one day replace petrochemicals.

For example, he says, carbon fibre panels for cars, high tech fabrics and even biopharmacueticals could all be derived from wood.

But Mr Gilsenan says for a country to be successful, it needs the right infrastructure in place, as well as Government policy support, such as a price on carbon and renewable fuel standards.

In New Zealand, the Crown Research Institute Scion believes the country could one day produce enough biofuels to power all our transport needs.