New Zealand's timber industry is being driven out of business by log exporters seeking to meet demand in China and other Asian markets, the New Zealand Timber Industry Federation warned Tuesday.
Since 2008, log exports had increased by 240 percent and international forestry commentators were saying the level of demand for logs in China, which accounted for 70 percent of New Zealand's log trade, would continue for the foreseeable future, said a statement from the federation.
Many federation members were frequently experiencing downtime and production losses because they were unable to buy logs or log supply was stopped.
"New Zealand sawmills are often paying top international rates for logs, so price is not an issue. It simply appears that some forest owners value their international customers more highly than domestic processors."
An estimated 3,000 jobs had been lost in the New Zealand wood processing sector since 2008 and more companies would close if the situation continued.
"This could lead to a shortage of product for the domestic market requiring timber to be imported into New Zealand," it said.
"We believe there has to be a serious discussion at government level about the on-going situation with log supply to the domestic wood processing industry," opposition Green Party forestry spokesperson Steffan Browning said in a statement.
"We also need to ensure that exporters of raw logs are paying its full environmental and social costs, including urgent methyl bromide recapture for log fumigations. When those costs are borne by raw log exporters, the balance will tip more in favor of processing and manufacturing wood products here, rather than sending unprocessed logs overseas."