Forestry is a vital component of New Zealand’s economy, contributing over $4.6 billion per year in export products. The majority of forest exports are required to meet strict phytosanitary requirements to gain market access to the importing country.
Methyl bromide is an approved phytosanitary treatment that is an ozone depleting substance. The New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that beyond 2020 methyl bromide remaining in the fumigation headspace at the end of a fumigation is not to be emitted to the atmosphere.
At present the phytosanitary treatment schedules require that approved treatments are applied to exported products year round. Scion scientists are exploring the possibility of seasonal windows during which the need for fumigant treatments may not be required. If this can be confirmed and is accepted by our trading partners the use of methyl bromide and associated fumigation costs to the industry will be reduced. Scion is leading a collaborative six year, $9.3 million research project co-funded by MBIE and STIMBR, aimed at reducing the use of fumigants and to find sustainable alternatives.
MBIE, MPI, STIMBR and the science providers recognise that the research outcomes will directly benefit New Zealand’s economy by ensuring continued market access of its third largest export sector, wood products. STIMBR invests in a research programme seeking alternatives to methyl bromide, including phytosanitary treatments, emissions management practices and a systems approach to manage phytosanitary risks.