The Institute of Foresty is helping develop the Forest Policy Project as the government is unwilling to initiate long-term forest policy, institute president James Treadwell says.
The institute is holding a conference in Wellington today to discuss the project, which it hopes could form government policy for the forestry and wood sectors for a hundred years.
Mr Treadwell said forests would have more to offer New Zealanders if the government understood their long-term benefits.
"We believe that in the last five or 10 years, some of the words and legislative changes coming from government have reduced the ability of forests to offer things to New Zealand, he said.
"Those things are non-economic benefits like erosion control, clean streams and preventing climate change. We believe that if we don't have a clear policy around those things then it's very easy for a government looking at only the next three years to ignore forestry.
"It's a very long-term industry. We plant a tree and it takes 30 years before we get anything back from it. The government is naturally looking at its own three year cycles and they're looking for quick change and economic return. While forestry does offer a good return in the long term the government doesn't understand the other benefits forests can offer."
Mr Treadwell said the Forest Policy Project could guide land owners who were considering converting their forests to dairy land.
"New Zealand traditionally has jumped on the band wagon of the next best thing and dairy has done that and it's probably gone too far in some areas. However we did the same in forestry," he said.
"We probably put forests where they shouldn't be and kiwifruit growers have done the same. I think there'll be a correction. We've seen a massive amount of forestry land converted and we'll see some of that going back to forests in the next 10 to 20 years probably."
The Forestry Institute supported the Government's efforts to create a National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry, he said.