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President's Comment

Graham West, New Zealand Tree Grower February 2023.

Hello everyone,

I hope this finds you in excellent health and well rested after the Christmas and New Year break. Activities by the Executive and others have maintained momentum in promoting the association and better serving its members.We were involved in several significant events late last year. Primarily the Forestry Growers Research conference in Nelson, the NZFFA Council meeting in Wellington, and the National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, Hamilton.

The effort put into the National Fieldays was a highlight for me, and the team of at least 16 committed huge time and energy to make it a success.The effort was outstanding. It is hard work to stand and talk to people for long periods and many of the team were there for four days. For me, they are the farm foresters of the year.

The Fieldays Forestry Hub was the first time I have seen such significant collaboration across the whole wood sector. It included wood processing companies, the regional wood councils, Scion, forest companies, forestry and harvesting consultants, and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

We hope this continues and we are considering having the same effort put into the National Fieldays this June.This will be on the same site, using most of the same display material. I welcome anyone to get involved in this and by taking the time to talk to the public, primarily land owners, you will experience in the excitement and opportunity we have in front of us.The associated initiative to run a grow-a-tree promotion was novel and exciting.While we gave out under 1,000 trees, I think we achieved proof of concept and have a new way of promoting our organisation and reaching future members.

Significant progress has been made in a pan-sector working group to implement the Industry Transformation Plan.We have been fortunate in securing funding from the Industry Transformation Plan budget to progress the projects we had previously developed for the alternative species initiative using the Forest Growers Levy.We are also supporting projects that encourage further processing of wood in New Zealand especially new biomaterials and the initiatives to generally promote wood as part of our future national sustainability strategy. At the same time, we are contributing to the improvement of the rules associated with the Emissions Trading Scheme and the carbon tables it uses.

I have decided not to apply for a third year of presidency.This is causing considerable re-evaluation of the issues we have around succession and structure. With forestry being supported and reformed by this government, forestry has become a political issue. As a result, the role of president has grown and demands more time and diverse skills. My conclusion is that the president’s role needs to be partitioned into three. Operational matters need consistent management support at head office to make them happen. Organisational issues and initiatives flow through the Executive and this group needs to be led by a chief executive. The political involvement and sector relationship management needs the skills of a board chairman. Partitioning the workload would make all these roles more palatable to part-timers.

I am concerned that the pan-sector experience and key relationships are lost each time we replace the president.To further this, I will be working with the Executive to make proposals to the Council about changes to the role of president. It may take some time to transition into a new structure, but it is an old conversation that we now need to address. I am sure we are up to it.


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