Forestry Minister Benny Henare announced today that the government has launched a more sustainable forestry industry with investments in a bioenergy plant, research on biomass and best forestry practices.
„The current forest harvesting practices recognized by the Minister’s Inquiry into Land Use are not sustainable. There is an urgent need to develop commercial uses for harvest residues, forest cuttings and other woody debris in some parts of the country, such as Tairavidi.” Beanie Henare said.
In addition to $10 million for immediate clean-up of slopes and litter in Tairāwhiti and other weather-affected areas announced ahead of the 2023 budget, the government is investing a further $10.4 million for tree biomass research.
„We want to see how we can better manage the felling through the forestry process and whether it can be used in bioenergy production in Tiraviti,” said Forestry Minister Bini Henare.
„One of the objectives of the research is to optimize the management of woody debris, including slash. This includes the study of better slash recovery methods, transportation, processing methods and market options, so the resource is used instead of creating a problem for our communities.
„The research will build the evidence base for investment in woody biomass supply, and help the government and industry develop a sustainable pathway.”
To increase the productive use of slash, two projects will help New Zealand develop business models for 'continuous cover forestry’, where trees are felled in cycles, to approve a bioenergy plant in Tairawidi. A possible alternative is to 'clear-fall’ or cut them all at once.
„Through the MPI, the government is supporting the approval process of a group in the Tairawidi-Higuai region to build a bioenergy plant that converts wood waste into a combination of biodiesel and electricity,” said Beeni Henare.
„This project is designed to provide a self-sustaining reduction management process to minimize the impact of reduction on society and the environment. This plant is a pilot and if successful will become a model for other forests across New Zealand.
„The investigation also recommends limiting the practice of clearing plantation forests in some areas, particularly on steeper soils with highly erodible soils. To be successful, new models need to be developed to ensure there is a viable alternative.
„That’s why I’m keen to see continued cover forestry efforts that limit the amount of trees cut to maintain the canopy and protect the soil from erosion.
“This project and the bioenergy plant – part of seven projects funded by the government to the tune of $1.35 million – will help build resilience in areas like Thairavidi where forestry makes a significant contribution to the local economy.
„We’re investing across the supply chain and looking at the whole system so we can make better changes in this region and across New Zealand,” Beanie Henare said.
(with inputs from New Zealand Government press release)
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