The 200-year era of economic growth fuelled by coal and oil has reached the end of the road. There’s an urgent need for alternatives. This is how we developed our own unique response.
In 2017 a group of partners from Aotearoa-New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan joined forces to develop a proposal. Their mission: To create a sustainable and renewable bio-economy that provided scalable alternatives to fossil and petrochemical products.
The New Zealand team, led by Māori, had a vision of a business anchored on 'mauri', i.e. the living essence and life-science of forests. The Taiwan and Singapore teams also wanted to create a generational mind-shift away from unsustainable and non-renewable resources that degrade the environment.
Three small, developed economies – joining forces to leverage their assets and expertise.
New Zealand's problem is its opportunity
New Zealand is good at growing trees. Huge plantations of Pinus Radiata have been established over the last century. These softwood forests grow rapidly on land that is not suitable for farming, and are well-managed by professionals.
Unfortunately, New Zealand is not good at processing trees into high-value products. Most of the country’s softwood is exported as raw logs to Asian markets, and up to 45% of the biomass is left behind. As well as being wasteful, this by-product degrades waterways and coastal areas.
Successive governments have grappled with the need to create industries that add value to New Zealand timber, but none have delivered a transformational opportunity.
The Māori economy
Māori control significant forestry resources. While these assets may be worth hundreds of millions of dollars on paper, this is not the same as having a productive economic base to sustain the people who collectively own them. Unlocking the potential of their land and forests would be a game-changer for Aotearoa New Zealand.
NZ Bio Forestry has significant Māori stakeholders, plus a vision to partner with Iwi and other groups who want to release the economic potential of their land. Our business model is anchored in the Māori world view that treats land as the foundation of life – not just a short-term extractive opportunity.
It’s a vision that dovetails with modern thinking about the circular economy. And you do not have to be a Māori organisation to align yourself with that.