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President's Comment

Neil Cullen, New Zealand Tree Grower May 2023.

At our recent conference in Timaru I was elected as your President.This is my second term in the role and already I can see that the demands and expectations have grown markedly since 2019. Fortunately, we have a good team on the Executive willing and able to share the load.This includes the experience of immediate past President Graham West and three new members, two of whom are farmers.

The Timaru conference was a rewarding experience for all who attended. Blessed with good weather we were given an excellent insight into the trees on farms and forestry of the South Canterbury region. A highlight for me was the visit to Balmoral Station where we saw the variety of enterprises including forestry the Simpson family are engaged in on this harsh but spectacular environment.The two workshop sessions were very informative and prompted plenty of subsequent discussion.Well done South Canterbury Branch for putting this all together and not letting the covid interruption of last year thwart your ambition to bring us together in Timaru.

Over the next two months the NZFFA with the support of Te Uru Rakau – New Zealand Forest Service will be holding 18 workshops around the country with the theme of Opportunities from Trees.The workshops are aimed at land owners with little previous experience of forestry and I ask branch members to encourage farmers in their area to attend. Branches are supporting by organising suitable venues and hopefully they will be good opportunity to recruit new members. Although the presenters are from the Executive, ideally there will be a local farm forester at each workshop to give an account of how trees have benefited their farm. Dougal Morrison is the project manager for the workshops and we have postponed employing an operations manager until we see how this one succeeds and if other such projects will eventuate after the election. Funds donated by branches last year are being held for that purpose.

Members in Hawkes Bay and Gisborne have experienced damage to their trees and farms from Cyclone Gabrielle that ranged from major to colossal.The worst affected farms will take years to recover.We will have the opportunity next year to view what species and management systems worked and what did not when the Hawkes Bay Branch host our conference.We are grateful for that branch’s commitment when they have so much else on their plate.

The NZFFA have provided a considered written submission to the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use in Tairawhiti and the local Gisborne Branch had a meeting with the panel to give their input. It seems apparent that the use of species which coppice and root graft must be part of the solution on those highly erodible soils.

Another submission on the proposed charges or cost recovery for the Emissions Trading Scheme has been prepared by Egon Guttke on our behalf. The proposals, if enacted, would serve as a considerable deterrent to small- scale forest owners being in the scheme and individual members may still have time to make their own submission. Further changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme seem likely if the Climate Change Commission has its way.


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