Minister warns foreign foresters

Wednesday 16 Oct 2019

Forestry Minister Shane Jones is considering reining in conversions of farmland to forestry after a rural backlash - He has also warned foreign owned forestry companies - which make up nearly 75 per cent of the industry - that unless they provide more access for local processors to get timber they could face an "oil and gas" style ban.

Jones, who is also regional economic development minister, conceded he felt the tension between his roles of promoting forestry and managing fears that forestry conversions are stripping the life out of smaller towns.

"I feel it deeply. I do," Jones said.

Jones said too many foreign companies had not provided enough access for domestic processors to get timber.

"Some of the international owners haven't covered themselves in glory," Jones said. "They don't believe that's their role - their role is to maximise their interests in New Zealand. But hey, all industries can lose their social license. And if you think the forestry industry is beyond further regulation, then just have a look at oil and gas. Once society speaks through politics, industry play second fiddle."

He said he wanted to see more foreign investors "enjoying exposure to the whole vertical chain" - planting and husbanding trees, investing in sawmills and in processing capacity.

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Source: Stuff news

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