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President's Comment

Hamish Levack, New Zealand Tree Grower November 2019.

The world needs forests, forests need forest owners and forest owners need to support each other. This was more or less Prince Charles’s message relayed by his head forester, Geraint Richards, at the ANZIF conference in August. Geraint also said that, in spite of the fact that many Europeans are conceived in wooden IKEA beds, most people do not want trees cut down.

My take is that people who plant woodlots are in their own way as admirable as Greta Thunberg. They stave off global catastrophe. They are even more heroic if they encourage each other, explain best forest practice, recruit new NZFFA members and advocate for sensible government forest policy. Most NZFFA members are already into this of course, but some have been exceptionally active recently.

Ken Harrex’s scheme whereby farmers each donate a hectare for climate activists to plant with trees is worth promoting. Dean Satchell deserves high praise for his efforts to retain certain alternative species within timber standard NZS 3602. Our submission on the government’s proposed biodiversity strategy could not have been made without Mike Orchard’s contributions.

Graham West, John Schrider and Dean have shepherded a triple-sided project to develop a harvest planning web tool to market and sell logs, and to carry out equipment production studies through the Small and Medium Enterprise Committee. This is the first stage in securing Levy Board funding.

Alan Reid and Eric Cairns have been championing a project to get levy money to promote training, skills and safety among small-scale forest owners. Vaughan Kearns managed our excellent Collingwood Action Group weekend in October.  With Dean Vaughan has been leading a vital project to save the germ plasm of, and test the sawmilling, drying and preservation of timber from a sixty-year-old Abies grandis block at Gwavas forest before it is harvested. Abies grandis is possibly now the best back-up species if radiata pine should suffer widespread failure.

Overtures via John Novis from Te Uru Rakau’s Policy and Trade directorate seeking assistance with the updating of the small forest management series of publications, which were a popular resource for growers in the mid-1990s, were welcomed recently. The eight booklets are Special Purpose Timber Species, Forestry Joint Ventures, The Resource Management Act, Planning a Small Forest, Establishing a Small Forest, Managing a Small Forest for Timber, Harvesting a Small Forest and Marketing a Small Forest.

Meanwhile the NZFFA has been interacting with another Te Uru Rakau directorate dealing with Forest Development, Grants & Partnerships for its applications for funds for several other useful projects, led mostly by Howard Moore and Egon Guttke. Many of the projects are related to the above-mentioned Small Forest Management series.

Overlaps among these undertakings for Te Uru Rakau, and others that non-NZFFA parties are actioning, means there is a clear need for rationalisation. The NZFFA is looking for clarification as to exactly what role Te Uru Rakau would like us to play, with respect to helping it with forest extension and facilitation work.

Although we are delighted with the initiatives of Don Wallace and Liz Chamberlain – the latter is our new NZFFA administrator − to improve our office systems, we need more staff to keep our forestry-good projects rolling. Minister Shane Jones said he would support us if we asked the government to finance this.  However, it turns out that we need to obtain substantial co-funding as well. Steve Wilton, who doubles as a member of the Levy Board and the NZFFA, championed us getting levy money for this, but because the Levy Board is currently reviewing its overall structure his request is unlikely to be approved, or not, for several months.


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