19 Mar 2014

Political leaders in forestry spotlight

9:22 am on 19 March 2014

The forest and wood processing industries are taking an intense interest in what the country's political leaders have to offer this election year.

Representatives of the National, Labour and Green parties are fronting up at the biennial Forest-Wood conference in Wellington on Wednesday to explain their relevant policies and hear what the industry would like from them.

Conference convener Jon Tanner, of the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association, said the wish list included encouraging the Government to take more interest in using wood for public buildings.

Many countries worldwide, such as Japan, Canada and France, were adopting a wood first policy for public buildings.

"We're asking the Government to take a look at that here and encourage them to follow the same kind of policy," Mr Tanner said.

The conference also aimed to get new forestry established.

Middle Districts Farm Forestry Association chairman Denis Hocking said it was a puzzle why there was not more interest in tree planting on marginal farmland because the returns stacked up.

In the current market, forest block owners were getting returns that were comfortably ahead of $1000 net per hectare per year.

That might not sound much compared with the $10,000-plus per year per hectare from dairying but it was about double the gross margins of farming sheep and beef on poorer land, Mr Hocking said.