Retaining market access - methyl bromide reduction (STIMBR/Scion)


  • New Zealand’s forestry exports, in particular logs, are highly dependent on the use of methyl bromide (MeBr) fumigation for access to our important markets.
  • Fumigation is a significant cost to the industry. Around 409 tonnes of MeBr were imported in 2010 for quarantine and pre-shipment fumigation, most of which was used on export forestry products. This consumption makes NZ the highest per capita of user of MeBr in the world.
  • NZ’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has ruled that by 2020 any MeBr used must be recaptured - a costly process. This ruling is driven by strong international pressure to eliminate the release of MeBr to the atmosphere within the next decade as it is recognised as an ozone depleting substance.
  • Continued access in the short term to MeBr can only be justified by showing a serious commitment to developing alternative quarantine treatment strategies.

Potential cost

The European Union has already banned MeBr use. If this were to happen in New Zealand today, some of our $4.7 billion forest produce export markets may be lost.
Affected exports comprise (year ended 31 December 2011): 12.8 million m3 logs with a value of $NZ1.7 billion and 1.9 million m3 sawn timber with a value of $NZ0.75 billion (sourced from FOA).


A high-priority programme to accelerate progress in methyl bromide replacement and reduction is now underway.

Research projects are focused on reducing MeBr use and emissions in current operations; providing alternative treatments for forestry; and reducing the need for fumigation by taking an integrated approach to phytosanitary pest management (IPPM).

The total cost of this research is $11 million spread over six years.


The core economic benefit of this research is the ability for New Zealand to maintain export market trade access.

The use of phosphine instead of MeBr for log exports to China from 2002-09 inclusive has saved an estimated $40 million in associated treatment costs.

The future ability to use phosphine for log exports to other Asian markets is estimated to generate potential cost savings of $9.4 million per year at current export volumes.


Reduction of methyl bromide use for forestry products has already saved $40 million and further annual savings of over $9 million are likely. The research will protect a very large forest produce export market.

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