Official website of the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association

President's Comment

Dean Satchell, New Zealand Tree Grower August 2016.

Developments continue in the levy space, with a significant level of new research being proposed by the joint research committee, particularly genetics research. Consideration is also being given to ownership of the Radiata Pine Breeding Company, which has looked after the genetic improvement of our most important forestry species for some time.The Radiata Pine Breeding Company shareholders include major forest growing companies in New Zealand and Australia. However, the question is whether the company should be brought entirely into the levy space and nationalised for industry-good. Negotiations are currently taking place between Forest Owners Association and the Radiata Pine Breeding Company, so watch this space.

The Forest Owners Association have agreed to NZFFA setting up a new joint levy committee which supports the interests of smaller forest growers.This Small and Medium Enterprises committee is to look at issues affecting owners of smaller forest blocks and to assist in providing input to the deliberations of the current committees. This is a very positive development in the levy space and growers need to think about their needs and contact me with these as I will be chairing the committee as President of NZFFA. We will also be guided by the results of a survey GrahamWest and I conducted six months ago of growers needs that each of you with an email address would have received. Harvesting is the clear priority for our efforts and I have kicked things off by contracting the University of Canterbury to produce an information resource on harvesting plantation forests, with an emphasis on smaller growers.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand is being set up to amalgamate the New Zealand Fire Service, the National Rural Fire Authority, 12 enlarged rural fire districts and 26 territorial authority rural fire authorities. Over the next four years Fire and Emergency New Zealand will build a modern, nationwide service integrating what are currently separate urban, rural, volunteer and paid firefighting forces.The NZFFA supports this initiative.

The perpetual rural roads funding issue is currently coming to a head, with many long term district plans currently being written.This issue has been under-funded by industry and we need to participate more in local authorities’ decision making to ensure our interests are being adequately represented. We pay rates throughout the growing cycle of our trees and then use roads for a small period of time about every 25 years for transporting our harvest. Equitable solutions need to be well thought through by councils when considering differential rating of forest land to cover costs of maintaining roads. Forest Growers Levy funding will be used to contract an independent resource consultant to produce a plan that forest owners can use in discussions with councils.

I note with concern the recent discovery of another forestry pest incursion, the eucalyptus variegated leaf beetle. This one arrived in Hawkes Bay and may be too widespread to eradicate. This is putting the incursion response system to the test, especially now that Government Industry Agreement is in place with the Forest Owners Association, whereby industry now has a say in how we respond to incursions, but also share in the costs.

Woodco has been active with new chairman Brian Stanley of the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association advocating for a wood first policy in New Zealand, along with government policy which addresses illegally logged imported timber and other big-picture policies we would like to see central government improve. We are a horse worth backing but we do not believe the settings are right yet. WoodCo is pursuing a strategic partnership with the government to discuss issues and opportunities. Although the 30-year time horizon for forestry complicates things, forestry has much to offer and WoodCo look forward to reporting on positive results from this.

Regarding the running of our own organisation, the NZFFA executive has agreed that we set up executive sub-committees, each chaired by an executive member and which address topics such as policy, communications and promotions. Having some structure around these key activities via sub-committees, with reporting back to the executive on tasks and actions, allows for participation in decision making by non-executive members, as officers of the NZFFA.

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