12 Oct 2010

'Coordinated approach needed' to grow forest industry

5:31 pm on 12 October 2010

A forestry conference in Wellington has heard that it will take a coordinated approach to grow the industry and manage its maturing plantations.

The Forest Wood event is the first joint conference of the almost $4 billion industry, representing growers, processors, manufacturers and contractors.

It is focusing on maximising value through the supply chain, as well as increasing exports to meet a rising international demand for wood.

Wood Council chair Doug Ducker says the conference is a chance for the industry to take a look at itself and see how it can move forward.

Mr Ducker told the conference that the Wood Council will be carrying out a major sector study over the next six months to determine what the industry can do better to coordinate and grow its collective value.

The Prime Minister, John Key, says the growth in wood exports to China shows the value of free trade agreements in firing up the economy.

In his opening address to the firstconference on Tuesday, Mr Key said demand from China is propping up the rest of the world, including New Zealand.

"Quarerly exports to China are now four to five times the level of only three years ago. It's quite a staggering a number," he said.

"China has gone from our fifth most important market to our top market for forestry products by volume and New Zealand's FTA with China has made a significant contribution to this success story."

Mr Key says, however, that while the economy has grown more in the past six months than in the previous four years, it needs to move faster to catch up with Australia.