The Rotorua Councils policy and action plan was implemented at a council meeting in early April 2015.

Rotorua District Council’s new Wood First Policy has three key broad objectives:

1. Facilitating and encouraging the use of wood as a preferred, sustainable building material for all projects in the district;

2. Requiring wood to be used in all council building projects; and

3. Actively supporting and advocating for wood and the wood industry – locally, regionally and at a national level.

Rotorua sits at the heart of New Zealand’s forestry and wood industry and has a significant impact on the district’s economy. Approximately 40 per cent of the country’s wood is harvested within a 100 km radius of the city.

The council’s decision to implement the Wood First Policy follows the precedent set late last year by Victoria’s Latrobe City Council, who unanimously voted for its Wood Encouragement policy.

Considered an Australian council first, its aim is to promote the use of wood as the preferred material in both the construction and fit out of all future Council buildings and infrastructure.

The Latrobe City Council was additionally praised at this year’s ForestWorks Industry Gala Dinner at Parliament House, Canberra, marked with a standing ovation.

In December the Latrobe City Council’s mayor, Councillor Dale Harriman, said that the policy signalled the Council’s intent to drive wood-related development in the region.

“We are proud of this pioneering policy that leads by example – showing the local community, the wider region and the rest of the country that we are clear in our purpose to encourage the use of wood as a suitable material for Council projects.

“Wood is a sustainable, carbon-friendly product we can source locally, so we hope this policy will see an increase in research and development opportunities, support Council’s efforts to drive job creation and see the industry set down strong roots in our community,” Dale said.