Dean Satchell, New Zealand Tree Grower November 2016.
As always, a hectic but interesting quarter has passed, with time somehow found for renovations to my family home and a beautiful eucalyptus floor.
At the Hokitika conference the NZFFA Council decided on a full day’s meeting in Wellington, midway between conferences. I have responded by calling a meeting in November. My expectation is that such a Council meeting will become a regular event, with this meeting offering Councillors the time to discuss the nitty gritty of governing our organisation, with so little time available at the conference for robust discussion. I envisage the conference offering the opportunity to briefly and formally pass what was discussed at an annual mid-year Council meeting. I would personally like to see less discussion at formal conference sessions and instead a brief process of decision making, followed by more time for informative presentations.
I am shortly off to Tasmania for the Australian Forest Growers conference. I will be speaking there on my research into processing Eucalyptus nitens solid timber products. I note the large amount of technical content being presented at the Australian Forest Growers conference, which I really look forward to, along with being part of a New Zealand contingent flying our flag.
Revisions of three standards that support the use of wood in the NZ building code are underway. If it is not bust it is boom. I have been waiting for these revisions for several years and your Executive have supported me in covering costs representing farm forestry in all three standards committees (NZS 3603, 3602 and 3640). Our hope is to re-introduce specialty timber species back into common building practice in New Zealand. Neither the specialty woods partnership nor any marketing initiatives we take will have any real market impact unless we can achieve code-compliance for specialty timbers as building construction materials without major hurdles, as are currently in place. The NZFFA are supporting the NZ Timber Design Awards by sponsoring the NZ Specialty Timber Award: ‘The use of specialty timber in a manner that best highlights its unique characteristics’. This category is open to entries using New Zealand grown timber, from furniture to buildings, facilities to objets d’art. I look forward to the gala evening and a worthy winner for our award.
The newest joint NZFFA/FOA committee, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) committee has been very busy and submitted three sustainable farming fund applications to MPI, which will also be considered in due course by the Levy Secretariat and Forest Owners Association board, on which I sit. The SME committee held its first meeting and have lots on the agenda to improve the lot of the small grower. If you have issues you would like us to consider, or have skills to offer regarding issues unique to the small grower, please get in touch with me. We are also overseeing a levy-funded technology transfer package, beginning with an upcoming information resource on small scale harvesting.
A further project has gained executive support, namely the Developing Partnerships project, which aims to encourage planting and otherwise promote forestry. This project, if supported by the Forest Growers Levy, aims to increase the level of tree planting by forming partnerships between NZFFA and other primary sector organisations representing landowners.
The levy-funded research conference was held recently in Hawkes Bay, outlining some of the many areas levy-funded research is taking the forest industry forward. This was well notified to members and I have had reports back on how well received it was by participants. There really are lots of good things happening in the levy space, we just need to make sure we are proactive in the joint NZFFA/FOA committees regarding small grower issues that levy funding can address.
The joint NZFFA/FOA Promotions committee on which I sit is currently considering communication priorities around social licence to operate, industry profile and where the forest industry is positioned within the primary sector. I have confidence that our story and message will set forestry up for a bright future. This positive story might be in contrast to other primary sectors that appear to be struggling to adapt to a future where sustainability and the environment are becoming more and more important.