Current Council and business planning relies too much on forestry to ensure future economic security for the region. Putting all our eggs in one basket is a high risk strategy, whether that is in growing, harvesting and exporting logs or in value added production.
The other problem with this approach is that the bulk of value added and wealth created leaves the region as the wood does. Foreign owned companies take their profits offshore (often to reinvest in commodity and currency speculation that does no favours to the national economy).
The potential of Manuka and other native species is only just starting to be realised and much more investment should be going into these kinds of options that are both economically and environmentally more responsible.