Graham West, New Zealand Tree Grower February 2022.
I hope everyone has had a great Christmas and New Year break and you got to enjoy the lifestyle and passion you have with forests. Many of you understand the Japanese concept of ‘bathing in the air of forests’ called shinrin-yoku. It simply means connecting with nature though our five senses and seems to be something we have lost in the last couple of centuries of evolution. In the current challenging times, forests offer solace and shelter. A visit to the Rotorua redwood grove shows the huge interest the public are taking in using this environment.
I have been recently reading the important role wood has had in the evolution of humans and the influence this material has had in developing our sophisticated society. The many amazing properties of wood have helped us tremendously, such as to be light and strong, to bend but not break, to provide fibre to make paper, to be resistant to rot and to form charcoal. All these properties have been used to progress the comfortable lives we enjoy. Trading in wood was probably the first sustainable export industry of New Zealand. This was first the use of kauri for ship spars, but soon developed into sawn timber export trade. Kauri use was soon to be followed by many of the high forest species such kahikatea, rimu, matai and totara. This industry lasted at least 100 years and many people have forgotten the large contribution it made to kick-start the New Zealand economy. It is reported that by 1907 there were 411 sawmills and over 7,000 people worked in logging and sawmilling.
Today’s New Zealand society is a large consumer of wood and wood products. Each year we use more than 12 million tonnes of wood, about 2.4 tonnes per person. Only 40 per cent is sawn timber, much of it is used as paper, packaging and tissue. Luckily, we found a super tree – radiata pine – which can fulfil most of our needs.
The major activity of the executive prior to Christmas was preparing proposals for the Council meeting on the 9 December. The meeting was covered in the December newsletter. Before the next Council meeting and AGM at the conference in April, it is important that all branches consider the best way forward for the organisation and especially the issues around funding and appointing an operations manager in Wellington. Early feedback would be welcome. I look forward to catching up with you and taking these matters forward at out April conference.