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Road shows about the forest grower levy

Hamish Levack, New Zealand Tree Grower February 2016.

The forest grower levy was established at the beginning of 2014 and has had a significant effect. Before the levy was introduced the few large corporate forest owners contributed voluntarily towards forest research, biosecurity, health and safety as well as a number of other projects which also benefitted the remaining forest owners who did not contribute. The levy has meant that now everyone who harvests trees pays a small levy of 27 cents a tonne, and this substantially increases the overall size of the funds available and the potential for obtaining even more money. However, although the owners of smaller forests have to now pay, they only have to dig into their pockets when they have income from when trees are harvested.

Forest Growers Levy Trust work programme

The table shows the budget for the core programme during 2015. As you can see the total is just under $6 million. A slightly increased budget is planned for 2016 with a total of over $7 million allocated to the core programme.

Marketing and membership support $296,250
Environment $120,225
Fire $85,000
Forest health and biosecurity $920,000
Health safety and training $965,000
Research science and technology $3,430,000
Transportation $50,000
Farm Forestry levy programme support $95,000

The first seven of the core programmes above benefit all growers. However, the last one in the list in the table refers to the provision of useful information to small forest growers via the NZFFA. This $95,000 contributed to the NZFFA’s administration, website and database development, levy-related information, publications, field days, workshops and road shows.

The road shows

Most small-scale forest owners are not members of the NZFFA, but we know who they are. Towards the end of 2015 it was decided to run some road shows, funded by the levy, about how the levy works. The aim was to have them in different parts of the country and to invite the owners of small-scale forests to these events using lists of names and addresses carefully compiled over the past few years from publicly available information.

The 2015 road shows were held in early November in Whangarei, New Plymouth and Christchurch, with a fourth in Dunedin at the beginning of December. They were all similar in format except for the New Plymouth show which was run in conjunction with an information function by the Wood Processors’ and Manufacturers’ Association. A total of just over 4,000 invitation letters were sent out to owners who were not members of the NZFFA in addition to invitations to members. All owners who had forests within approximately 100 km of the venue were invited.

Speakers and their topics  
Peter Davies-Colley, Hamish Levack, Patrick Milne, Brian Stanley, Neil Cullen The meeting chairmen and those summing up the shows
David Rhodes, Glenn Mackie, Russell Dale, Grant Dodson How the road levy works and what it is spent on
Dean Satchell Marketing of farm forestry timbers and the website market place
Russell Dale Details on forest levy funded research
Glenn Tims What the NZFFA stands for and why forest owners should join
Kelly Coghlan Getting economies of scale for forest owners and providing markets with a continuous supply of wood
Fiona Ewing, Mark Montgomery, Ian Jackson Upcoming changes to health and safety in the workplace with the new legislation
Hamish Levack What the Southern North Island Wood Council does
Grant Dodson What the Southern Southern South Island Wood Council does
Tom Boon (Taranaki Pine) and Alistair Dore (Clelands Timber) The current and future of the forestry industry in Taranaki
Jon Tanner The wood processing story
Warren Parker The synergy between farming and forestry
Richard Parker Potential fire risks and protection
Nick Ledgard The right tree in the right place
Denis Albert MPI’s role, running the Afforestation Grant Scheme developing the National Environmental Standards

The invitations explained that the road show would aim to clarify what the forest grower levy is, what it is used for and what is planned for in the future. Topics also covered the value of being a member of the NZFFA, the benefits of wood councils and topical forestry related information.


How it all went on the day

Attendance at the road shows  
Whangarei 70
New Plymouth 90
Christchurch 30
Dunedin 40

The format for each day, or more precisely half day, was generally the same for all three venues although, as mentioned earlier, New Plymouth had a second session run by the Wood Processors and Manufacturers’ Association. This second part of the New Plymouth day covered subjects such as the current and future forestry industry in the Taranaki region, the continuity of wood supply and better returns.

Final word

Some of these presentations will be available as articles in this and future issues of the Tree Grower. However, it is worth reiterating Warren Parker’s message which is that the strategic reasons shaping the future of the forest industry are positive −

  • There will be an increasing global demand for renewable wood
  • Forestry will have an increasingly important role in combatting the adverse effects of climate change
  • There are domestic and international limits to wood supply and the resources which can substitute for wood
  • There is ample land, especially Maori land, available and suitable for afforestation in New Zealand
  • Trees planted from now on will mature at a time of local resource scarcity
  • Technology, such as drones, robots and the internet will reduce the cost of forest operations
  • The forestry sector is well placed to widen the validation of its social licence to operate.

More road shows are being planned for 2016 for different parts of the country. If you were not able to attend one of these in 2015 do try to get to one this year. Once the dates are confirmed they will be made available in the NZFFA newsletter, on the website and by your branch.


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