Graham West, New Zealand Tree Grower May 2022.
Despite the issues of Covid, we have recently held a successful Council meeting and Annual General Meeting via zoom, with 51 participants linked into the AGM session. There is a lot happening and some keen interest in the proposed changes to the organisation and public matters that affect us.
There is an enormous amount of political activity in the forestry sector due to the current reformist government. This requires significant time commitment by volunteers who are addressing a broad range of issues. Much of this is connected to the Emissions Trading Scheme and climate change, but many other regulations are being changed under the Forest Amendment Act. As a new Forest Growers Levy Trust board member, I am getting accustomed to how this board operates and feel more comfortable and effective after my second meeting.
The response from branches and two action groups to the request for funds this year has been very positive with 15 offers totalling $62,750. The Neil Barr Forestry Foundation Fund has also approved a request for $20,000 and we got a $5,000 donation from Hamish Levack and Howard Moore’s extension project. This totals $87,750 which is fantastic support. Thank you, we will be progressing the initiative to engage contractors with guidance from the Executive.
A major activity for many has involved participation in the discussions around the permanent carbon category in the Emissions Trading Scheme. Our stance on this is that there is now urgency needed to address climate change mitigation and the option for exotic species to be used in permanent carbon forests needs to be retained to make any significant progress on reducing nett emissions at a reasonable cost. We have prepared a 20-page submission on the proposed changes. These are all public and will probably be on the website.
In the area of promotions, we are active on three initiatives – to participate in a large display at the National Field days, to encourage associate membership with aligned organisations and to arrange for roadside billboards which give a positive message about forests and their ability to address climate change. As mentioned at the Council meeting, we would like the branches to pick up this initiative with local billboards and local messages. An emerging favourite contributed by a member is ‘Farm foresters – climate heroes’. Excellent.
We are also investigating getting our brand placed on suitable clothing to raise our public profile. Examples should be available in the next newsletter.