14 May 2014

New way to cut out timber fumigation

1:44 pm on 14 May 2014

New techniques spearheaded by the Ministry for Primary Industries have led to some timber exports heading to Australia without first having to be fumigated with the ozone-depleting gas methyl bromide.

Reducing fumigation with the ozone-depleting gas methyl bromide is on the cards.

Reducing fumigation with the ozone-depleting gas methyl bromide is on the cards. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Australia wants to keep the burnt pine longhorn beetle that's found in New Zealand, out of its country and until recently all sawn timber had to be fumigated during the summer flight season of the beetle.

Ministry director of plants, food and environment Peter Thomson says a successful trial has shown the Australians that other methods can be applied to keep the beetle out.

"With this alternative, timber exporters or wood product exporters are able to keep their product in a secure area that will exclude those beetles.

"And as long as they process their product and pack it into containers in a way that excludes the beetle from being able to get in there during the process then they're free to ship under this new system," said Mr Thomson.

There are numerous initiatives underway around New Zealand investigating how to reduce the use of the fumigant methyl bromide - or how to try and recapture more of it.

However, with the increased exports of logs to China, New Zealand's use of the ozone depleting gas is skyrocketing.

Steffan Browning of the Green Party says the country is using 81 percent more of it now than it did in 2008 - despite New Zealand committing to reducing the use of gases that deplete the ozone layer creating the ozone hole.