Official website of the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association

President's Comment

Hamish Levack, New Zealand Tree Grower August 2019.

Since the last Tree Grower was produced, Wink Sutton, Neil Cullen and Bruce Bulloch have stood down from their respective roles as patron, president, and treasurer of the NZFFA. We are very grateful for their contributions.

Wink has provided a thoughtful article in virtually every Tree Grower for over a decade. Neil has led us well during a time which has included the bedding down of the forest levy, the setting up of a new Forest Service and the maturation of the wall of wood. He has donated hundreds of hours of his time and skillfully harnessed the energies, knowhow and experience of NZFFA members and associates, not only for our collective benefit but also for the good of the entire forestry sector.  Bruce has of course put everybody’s contribution to the NZFFA into the shade.  As well as looking after our finances, he has managed the national office with a steady hand for nearly twenty years.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of Graham West and his organising committee, our AGM and conference last May in Rotorua ended up with just over 220 registrants.  The experimental format, which included more indoor presentations and brainstorming, was successful. The ‘youth forum’ is a particularly promising initiative.  The presence at the conference of Shane Jones, the Minister of Forestry, and Julie Collins, the head of Te Uru Rakau, gave us a feeling that our organisational reform and rejuvenation will enjoy strong Government support.

Don Wallace has taken over from Bruce Bulloch as the NZFFA treasurer, and Graham West and Egon Guttke were elected to the Executive. Howard Moore and Peter Berg have agreed to join the Executive as co-opted, but non-voting, members. As the chairperson of Tanes Tree Trust, and the Speciality Wood Products Partnership, Peter’s continued involvement strengthens our links with the rest of the forest sector. Howard, who facilitated the NZFFA Council’s recent strategic planning sessions, is highly regarded for his analytical skills. 

Executive meetings during June and July have maintained the conference’s momentum. Council, which has provided the overall direction, has charged the Executive to continue to develop a strategic plan. The work is going to be split among three ‘chambers’, presided over by Mike Orchard, Howard Moore and Graham West respectively.

A key focus will be to strengthen our role as the representative of all of New Zealand’s 14,000 plus small-scale forest owning entities by demonstrating an ability to communicate regularly with them. As well as maintaining our interest and expertise in alternative exotic tree species and indigenous forests, we need to do more to represent the interests of people whose primary interest is the commercial management of radiata pine.

My vision is that one day the NZFFA will develop a business unit, like Södra in Sweden, which promotes small-scale forest owner profitability by providing scale economies, advice and support.

Advocacy is our other important role. We can argue with confidence that we influence the forest policy views of perhaps 100,000 voters. Past issues of the Tree Grower record how the NZFFA has contributed to the decision to set up Te Uru Rakau. We are delighted that a new Forest Service has been created, but would now like to see it evolve into something more than an organisation which just encourages afforestation to provide eco-system services. We would like it to also be able to direct new planting so that the current regional walls of wood are converted to higher levels of sustainable wood supplies in appropriate catchments, this being necessary before any significant increase in the processing of wood can be contemplated.

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