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President's Comment

Ian Jackson, New Zealand Tree Grower February 2014.

Hello and welcome to this, the first issue of the Tree Grower for 2014. The year begins with the forest harvest industry stretched to capacity on the back of very good log prices in Asian markets. At the same time new planting rates are at historical lows and in fact there will be a net deforestation of New Zealand’s plantation forest area.

There seems to be no way of reversing this trend, with competing land use through conversion, mainly to dairying, being a big factor. Forest investment at present does not seem to feature as a worthwhile one. While the corporate forest sector is doing very well and is replanting harvested areas, investor groups are not interested, and the government seems to have no intention of providing incentives for new plantings. This whole scenario seems a very short-sighted situation as the future drop in production, after the mid-1990s planting spike is dealt with, will have major ramifications for a future forest industry in New Zealand.

The Levy

As of 1 January this year the Forest Growers Commodity Levy is a reality and all harvested wood in New Zealand will be subject to a compulsory levy at the rate of 27 cents a tonne or JAS cubic metre. This is the single biggest thing to affect the forest sector for a long time. Much has been written about the levy but it would seem that many, even those in the industry, are not aware of its existence.

The levy was crucial so that the industry could continue to fund its activities, as well as attract government co-funding in important research areas. The burden of funding will be shared by all who are harvesting trees, not just those companies which have in the past made voluntary contributions. There will be an article in the next Tree Grower updating the levy, where money will be spent and where NZFFA fits in. Information in the meantime can be found on the website.

Since the last Tree Grower the vote for the Forest Growers Levy Trust Board has taken place. Steve Wilton, from Forest Enterprises in Masterton, and myself, were successful in the vote to serve as the representatives of the small-scale growers on the board.

Health and safety

You will all be aware of the terrible situation with forestry accidents in recent times. Whether this is a long-term trend or just an abnormal surge in accidents we do not know, but all those in the forest industry are concerned.

To determine what is going on and perhaps establish some reasons for the problems, Forest Owners Association, along with NZFFA and the Forest Industry Contractors Association, are instigating a review of the entire logging industry. This will take the form of a three member independent review panel which will be charged with delving into the industry and hopefully coming up with some recommendations.

Any person or group will be able to make a submission to the panel if they wish, or think they have something constructive to say. This review is in full collaboration with the relevant government agencies. There is a lot going on out there hopefully to make the forest logging industry safer.

AGMs and the conference

This is the time of year leading up to branch annual meetings. The branches are the heart and soul of this organisation and they need your support so that they flourish and that the whole NZFFA continues to exist and foster the planting of trees on farm land or wherever they may fit. I will be attending the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne AGMs in March. Get along to a branch AGM, take a friend or take on a job and get in behind this great organisation.

Have you registered for the conference yet? Do it today, as this looks like a great programme in an attractive part of the world.


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