International Community Endorses the Importance of Planted Forests

26 April 1999

International recognition of the importance of planted forests in sustainable forest management has taken a big leap forward following a conference in Chile involving 31 countries as well as several non-government and international organisations

New Zealand was one of five countries to sponsor the conference. It is the first time such a meeting has been held.

Despite opposition to the concept of planted forests from a number of nations and NGOs, delegates from countries such as New Zealand where planted forests play a key role in industry, were able to persuade opponents and sceptics of their value.

Director of International Forestry Policy with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Don Wijewardana, said from some European countries believed that planted forests had little value in conservation and sustainable forest management. "But the conference concluded that their role is critical."

"It is predicted that by the year 2050 an extra 100-million hectares of planted forest will be needed. And that figure is based purely on the projected increase in population. It does not take into account any increased per capita consumption.

"Natural forests, especially if managed sustainably, simply cannot supply that level of timber and wood products. Already 15-million hectares of natural forest is depleted every year."

Mr Wijewardana said a key result of the conference was an agreement that all forests produce various goods and services and a continuum exists from highly protected conservation forests to productive, short rotation planted forests.

"As such the boundary between planted and natural forests is often indistinct."

This was in sharp contrast to the prevailing definitions which attempt to separate forests into two types: natural and planted.

The Chief Executive of the New Zealand Forest Industries Council, James Griffiths says the outcome of the conference was even better than expected. "These recommendations will go a long way in clearly identifying the important role of our planted forests. It is a sound basis to ensure future market opportunities."

Mr Wijewardana believes part of the success of the conference from New Zealand's point of view can be attributed to the successful partnership that operated between industry, research, environmental, non-government organisations and government.

The recommendations of the conference also include certain limitations relating to new planting, for instance the need to avoid the felling of natural forests in order to do this.

The conference agreed that developed countries should produce effective policies to reduce unsustainable consumption of forest products. These include focusing on reduction, re-use, recycling, and eco-efficiency. "It was underlined these strategies should not substitute wood by less sustainable alternatives such as concrete, steel and aluminium," he said.

These recommendations will be presented next week (3 May) to a meeting of the United Nations Intergovernmental Forum on Forests.

"We expect that the recommendations will become the basis of all future international work on planted forests," Mr Wijewardana said.

Media inquiries to:
Don Wijewardana 04- 498 9870



Last Updated: 10 September 2010

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