Science and industry combine to carve the future of wood processing

4 June 2013

WoodScape studyInvesting in opportunities to expand onshore wood processing has been the subject of a recently released study of the New Zealand forestry and wood processing sector.

The WoodScape study, initiated by the New Zealand Wood Council (WoodCo), was conducted by Rotorua’s Crown Research Institute Scion in partnership with FPInnovations (Canada). The study supports WoodCo’s strategy to double export earnings from the sector over the next ten years.  

“With the global financial crisis and low housing starts, wood processing in New Zealand has had a difficult time in recent years,” says Warren Parker, Chief Executive of Scion. “On the other hand this study confirms there are a number of promising new processing technologies and products. It shows too, the vital importance of continuous innovation to improve mill productivity and develop products which can realise more value from our forests.”

Scientists at Scion designed a model to undertake financial analyses of traditional and emerging wood processing technologies for the study. The model is able to highlight the most promising investment options based on metrics such as potential return on capital, job growth and GDP contribution. The findings from this study show where the industry should increase its focus to realise WoodCo’s goal of more than doubling forest and wood product exports to $12 billion by 2022.

The model was used in the WoodScape study to analyse the investment potential of a diverse range of nearly 40 different technologies; both traditional and emerging.  They included solid wood products, panel products, pulp and paper, engineered wood products and biofuel plants.

“WoodScape is a valuable tool for investors. It will help them answer the question – are we heading in the right direction?” says Dr Parker. “And, it will also help us to focus our research to generate more value for wood processors and gain a better understanding of how we can enhance industry value chains from the forest through to customers.

“Our next step is to work with companies to use the WoodScape model to help them understand their individual investment options at specific sites and regions.”

Scion is holding workshops to demonstrate how the WoodScape model may help forestry and wood processing business owners and investors make decisions around the future of their operation. Workshops will be held in Rotorua, Whangarei, Gisborne, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin in June.