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President's Comment

Neil Cullen, New Zealand Tree Grower August 2018.

The conference in Nelson was a successful and enjoyable event and we are grateful to the team there that put it all together. Minister Shane Jones in his speech exuded energy and enthusiasm for forestry which has been lacking in government for some time. Our association needs to capitalise on the supportive climate that currently exists for forestry and trees on farms by recruiting new members and spreading the message that more trees are a national priority. Talks with the forestry spokesman from the National Party indicate that even if there was a change of government the current push for forestry would continue. Congratulations to all award winners.

You will no doubt be aware of two recent erosion events in Motueka and Tolaga Bay which have both received considerable media attention. Both events involved exceptionally intense rainfall affecting steep erosion-prone land and resulted in slope failure in some areas. In both cases forest debris has contributed largely to the damage done and exacerbated the clean-up costs. Although most of the media attention has been on corporate forestry practises, small-scale foresters are certainly not immune to the risks involved with such events and in some ways are more vulnerable in that they may not have the resources to assist with clean- ups or respond to claims for damages.

We therefore are asking all members of the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association to check any erosion risk areas within your forests where harvesting has been carried out within recent years or is about to be. In particular, you should satisfy yourself that all appropriate measures have been taken or will be taken to minimise the risk that your harvesting activities might contribute to the sort of consequences experienced in Tolaga Bay or Motueka should your area be hit with similar weather. We also suggest that you ensure that public liability insurance levels are sufficient for the risks that you face.

The Executive spent a day recently working on planning for the future of the NZFFA. The discussion led by Howard Moore focussed initially on a vision of where we intended the NZFFA to be as an organisation. Then time was spent on developing a plan and priorities for achieving that vision and working out what changes are needed. More work needs to be done on how and when these steps might be achieved but the idea is that a draft would be presented to a Council meeting for further discussion planned for Wellington on 16 November. More details will be sent to branches as this is confirmed.

The special interest group weekend will be hosted by Waikato Branch on 3 and 4 November. It will feature visits to the award winning Forsythe farm at Te Kawa and also Ian Brown’s Pirongia property.

Two more forest fatalities last month in Nelson and Rangitiki and one the month before remind us that more needs to be done to make our industry a safer place to work. This is not only to avoid the tragedy and grief for affected families but to ensure that parents will want their children to regard forestry as a desirable work environment for them to enter.

I have been reading the obituary for John Mortimer in the Waikato newsletter and was amazed by the full life that he and his widow Bunny have lived. As well as being a distinguished national President and award-winning farm forester they wrote three books on forestry including one that I have consulted often, Trees for the New Zealand Countryside. Their legacy is the arboretum at Taitua, a 20-hectare property they gave to Hamilton City in 1997 which is visited by more than 100,000 people each year.


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