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April, 2010

New Farm Forestry Leader Sees Exciting Prospects For More Trees on Farms

Incoming Farm Forestry Association president John Dermer sees an exciting future for forestry on farms. "A 20% plus lift in log prices over the last year, with the prospect of more to come, the ability to sell carbon and Government support for new planting add up to an exciting future", says John. "Now is a very good time to consider planting trees".

John Dermer has taken over the Farm Forestry Assn. presidency from former president Patrick Milne, a North Canterbury forestry consultant and nurseryman who held the post for three years.

John Dermer and his wife Diny run a 186 ha. mixed cropping, finishing and farm forestry operation, "Waipiko" near Feilding in the Manawatu. They also have off-farm forestry interests and have been involved in forestry for 28 years. They were winners of the 2009 Balance Farm Environment Awards "Trees on Farms" award and have hosted a number of farm forestry field days on the property. Along with broad interests in trees, John is on the board of Ducks Unlimited and has created several interesting dams and wetlands on the property.

For the last five years John has been judge for the North Island farm forestry awards.

John believes that the NZ Farm Forestry Assn. has an important role helping farmers intelligently integrate trees and forestry with other land uses. Increasing demand for more sustainable and lower environmental impact farming practices, concerns about animal welfare, improving returns for logs and the possibility, now reality for some, of significant returns from carbon all point to the need for more trees on farms. John says he is confident these trends will continue.

"There is plenty of eroding hill country which desperately needs tree cover so a good, hard look at this scheme is a must for any farmer with serious erosion problems" comments John. The scheme is not limited to radiata pine and as John points out, " Farm foresters are the acknowledged experts in growing and processing alternative species such as poplars, cypresses, eucalypts, redwoods, etc.."

"There are other exciting prospects for wood too, such as biofuel", according to John. "Indeed, you could summarise the case by saying that in a world of rising energy costs and pressure to constrain carbon emissions, low energy, carbon sequestering wood has to be a winner. The sooner the trees are planted the better the prospects for the landowner", says John.

Other changes on the NZ Farm Forestry Association national executive include the election of Taihape farmer and farm forester, Angus Gordon, and Wellington forester Hamish Levack, while Bulls farmer and farm forester Denis Hocking has stepped down.

Contacts: John Dermer 06 328 9740

Denis Hocking 06 322 1254 021 051 4479

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