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President's Comment

Dean Satchell, New Zealand Tree Grower November 2015.

This has been another busy period with much happening in the forest growing and levy space. Our recent two-day executive meeting in Wellington had a full agenda, culminating with my meeting with Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew, where I asked for improved policy regarding forestry. I put to the Minister that only a level playing field across land uses will allow sustainable sector opportunities to emerge that, in the longer term, will benefit both the economy and the environment. Government policy which prices such things as carbon and nitrogen, if skewed in favour of one sector over another, or grand-parented, do the land use sector no favour.The impression I got was that National’s interest in business development is so focussed that side issues such as the environment are not of consequence if perceived to impede progress.The environmental benefits of forestry and trees just do not seem to be on the radar yet.

The NZFFA are a partner in the forest commodity levy.This is a brave new world for us with significant responsibilities resting on our shoulders.We have representation on the committees administering the funds generated by the levy, and we need to represent the interests of the small forest grower − not just adequately, but admirably.The workload on our voluntary representatives and executive committee has increased dramatically, but we can make a difference and it has been great to see motivated individuals stepping up to the mark.

The levy roadshow is now on the road.The NZFFA is managing a series of seminars around the country, beginning this year.The purpose of these meetings is to explain the levy and how it works to small forest growers who are all either actual levy payers or expected levy payers.These roadshows are expected to continue around the regions over the next couple of years so keep an eye out for the roadshow in your region.

Progress continues to be made in the health and safety space, with Fiona Ewing appointed to the role of Safety Director on the Forest Industry Safety Council. Fiona met with our executive and described her plans for further improving safety in the forestry sector. It is really pleasing to see the culture change taking place with the forest sector embracing safety in the workplace. We are looking forward to working with Fiona and are pleased to see this initiative in capable hands.

The Fire Services Review is well underway and our representation has made a difference.We are feeling positive about where this is going and once finalised will be reported in the Tree Grower.

The National Environmental Standard for forestry continues to be a work in progress but is near to being finalised.The SpecialtyWood Products Partnership is an exciting new project and partnership between the forest industry and MBIE which is kicking off as I speak.The technical steering group has met with the science leaders and it is hoped for some firm direction before the end of the year for this seven year programme, exploring opportunities for both products and improved growing practices from diverse plantation species.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, Conference 2016 is just around the corner and it has been great to see the wheels of our many capable West Coast volunteers turning smoothly and enthusiastically, with an exciting and interesting programme coming together. Many thanks Michael Orchard and your team for your efforts to date inviting all those interested in trees and forestry to theWest Coast, April 2016.


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