Greater role for a public forestry service

  • Hon Stuart Nash

A greater role for a public forestry service has been outlined by the Forestry Minister, to drive the focus on regional economic development, skills training, and a low-emissions future.

Stuart Nash today announced Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) will be renamed Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service, and will shift its operational headquarters from Wellington to Rotorua.

“The name change is small but significant. It signals a more hands-on role for a public forestry service, with specialists and advisors working alongside the sector,” Mr Nash said.

“We will lift planning and advisory capabilities within Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service so it can offer a professional advisory service and share its forestry management expertise.

“It will provide more on-the-ground support to iwi, private landowners, farm foresters, local councils, timber processors, training institutes, and other forestry organisations. The Forest Service will maximise opportunities for the forestry and wood processing sector.

“Forestry will be a key part of our climate change response. In areas like biofuels, forestry can support our move away from fossil fuels. Innovative building products made from local wood will replace products such as concrete and steel.

“For Māori, there is huge potential across the whole forestry system, as landowners, community leaders, investors and guardians of the environment. We will continue to support Māori aspirations for land management, economic development, and job creation.

“By retaining more wood processing onshore, we create local jobs and further support rural communities. Wood processing plants offer the opportunity to create high-tech, high-value products and by-products to diversify the income streams of foresters.

“Farmers, foresters, and conservationists share an objective to plant more trees in the right places, whether to diversify farm incomes, stabilise erosion-prone hills, increase wood supply for processing, or create more permanent indigenous forests for biodiversity or recreational use.

“Forestry is the third largest primary exporter by value so it’s important we keep innovating to support regional development, drive economic growth and meet our climate and environmental goals.

“That will feed into our vital work on the Industry Transformation Plan and the delivery of the Government’s Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential roadmap.”

“In the past three years forestry policies prioritised regional economic development, by supporting extensive tree planting and job creation. We are now building on those achievements to transition to a professional advisory and management service.

“Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service will continue to work alongside local communities on the remaining tree planting projects that endure from the One Billion Trees funding.

“More than 258 million trees have been planted towards the goal of one billion trees by 2028. The dedicated fund to kick-start the public-private sector programme was time-limited, and last year it stopped accepting new applications for funding.

“It has served its purpose as a cornerstone of the programme by building momentum for new planting. Approximately $23 million of the fund is unallocated and will be reprioritised towards the new work of Te Uru Rākau – the New Zealand Forest Service, making it cost-neutral.

“The operational headquarters will be based in Rotorua in a new wooden building that highlights the potential of timber construction, and reflects Rotorua’s central location in our largest plantation forest region.

“Expert forestry planning, management, and advisory services are the key to maximising long-term environmental and economic gains. The future for forestry is not only bright from an economic perspective, it holds the key to a more sustainable future,” Mr Nash said.

Read more about the Minister’s vision for the Future of Forestry in the document attached to this page: Future of Forestry Booklet.

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