The Green Party today proposed creating a Regional Research Institute focused on developing high-value wood-based products for export and use in New Zealand.
Green Party leader James Shaw made the announcement at the New Zealand Institute of Forestry Annual Conference in Rotorua.
“The Greens in government will support foresters and innovators to add value to the timber they grow already, creating new jobs in the regions and greater demand for timber,” said Mr Shaw.
“From my office window I can see unprocessed logs waiting on Wellington’s wharves to be exported and that’s a lost opportunity. We should be turning the timber we grow into something of higher value before we export it.
“There’s some exciting stuff going on with wood research – from new building materials, wood-reinforced plastic, and even wooden semiconductors.
“A Green government will make sure government procurement processes choose wood as a building material wherever practical, and we’ll support our foresters and innovators to develop new timber-based products.
“This is what a sustainable economy looks like – government backing businesses to innovate, creating jobs in the regions, and supporting projects that work with the environment, not against it.
“National wants to set up a Regional Research Institute to help coal mining but the Greens would target regional economic development funding towards investing in clean, sustainable industries like wood and forestry.
“Trees take carbon out of the atmosphere and help us do our bit to halt climate change, and planting along streams and rivers helps filter the nitrate pollution from intensive farming so is a vital part of cleaning up our rivers.
“Rotorua is forestry country and would be a good location for a wood research institute, though we’d go through a normal contestable funding process to ensure the best business case is supported.
“We see a wood processing and manufacturing regional research institute complementing the existing great work being done in this area by organisations like Scion; in fact Scion would be a leading contender to run this new regional institute,” Mr Shaw said.
Regional Research Institutes are funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment through a contestable process. There is currently $16 million of unallocated funding. The Greens would hold a specific contestable funding round to choose the location and partners for a new wood processing and manufacturing research institute.