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Newsletter 137, October 2021

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In this issue

President's Report

FGLT funding applications

On the 23rd of August the Forest Growers Levy Trust board decided on funding allocations for next year by portfolio (committee). They are:

Work Program Available Funding $8,897,986 % of Workprogram
Fire $26,694 0.3%
Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) $124,572 1.4%
Transport $204,654 2.3%
Environment $235,797 2.7%
Training and Careers $516,083 5.8%
Marketing and Promotion $756,329 8.5%
Health and Safety $818,615 9.2%
Biosecurity $969,880 10.9%
Research, Science and Technology $5,245,363 59%
Total expenditure $8,897,986 100%

NZFFA have representatives on all these committees.

We have put four bids totalling $566,000 to the Research Science and Technology committee, and carefully managed the application and vetting process to ensure we get the best opportunity to be funded. This included a Zoom meeting for Vaughan Kearns and me to discuss the background and strategy with small grower representatives on the committee, i.e. Angus Gordon and John Schrider. The next day we presented to the Research Committee via Zoom and answered questions. John reported it was well received. However, our applications got somewhat entangled in the re-bid of the Specialty Wood Products (SWP) programme which runs out of funds on 30th June 2022. Vaughan Kearns and Paul Millen put together an excellent application for a new SWP programme costing $25m over 5 years. There is still a lot to be done to secure this level of funding and I have asked Vaughan and Paul to lead this work and to engage with other key stakeholders. This includes the chairpersons of the species Action Groups, and the SWP governance body chaired by Peter Berg.

We have also submitted one grant application to the Environment Committee and three to the SME Committee which meets on 15 October. 

National Council meeting – Rotorua

Planning for the next Council meeting in Rotorua (30th November) and a following field day is proceeding. The council meeting will take half a day followed by a series of presentations from Scion on relevant science developments. Also, we are arranging to get industry leaders to present on their future plans and relationships with the NZFFA.

Ian McKelvie (National party spokesman on forestry)

The Rotorua Chamber of Commerce arranged a breakfast speech by Ian who was touring the country specifically to talk to the forestry sector. The meeting (via Zoom) was primarily Q&A. The session indicated he was reasonably well informed and understood the lack of confidence in forestry investment, the shortage of wood supply in some regions to foster more processing, the need for longer term planning, and the enthusiasm of forestry people.

Alternative and contingency species

Following the outcome of the May workshops held in Wellington and the development of the recent FGLT research proposals, there is a clear opportunity for us to take a leadership role in developing this area, both in terms of research programmes and informing government policy. I suggest the chairpersons of the action groups need to be engaged and coordinated to help with this. Further, there is a role for the NZFFA to support an enthusiast like Vaughan to work with TUR, FGR and Scion to facilitate the rejuvenation of the SWP programme and ensure it delivers more for NZFFA members.

My suggestion is to second Vaughan onto the Executive so that he has more authority, and to appoint a General Manager to the NZFFA to run the administration and support these initiatives.

FENZ Charter 

We have signed the Plantation Forestry Rural Fire Control Charter along with FENZ, NZFOA, and TUR/NZ Forest Service. The signatories will work together to:

  • develop and promote objectives and actions to improve wildfire management for New Zealand, and
  • communicate these objectives to our respective members and personnel and to the wider public, and specifically the communities we impact.

The Plantation Forestry associations (the NZFOA and NZFFA) will also recommend to their members that they adopt those elements that can only be acted on by individual forest owners, rather than by the signatories alone.

Industry supply crisis

NZFOA and NZFFA have prepared an update for officials on the impending crisis in the export log supply chain. Government has received several verbal and written updates on the accumulating impacts on the forest sector of supply chain issues, magnified by the recent COVID restrictions. Since the forest sector was not deemed an essential industry and could not operate under level 4, it has not been able to insulate its supply chain and several issues are now coming to a head. Shipping costs have risen dramatically over the last 12 months and additional costs associated with demurrage, ship cleaning, phytosanitary controls and available technical staff are accumulating. The result is possibly not all forests areas are going to be able to be harvested profitably. Smaller forest owners may postpone harvest and wait for improved market conditions. 

 Media releases and submissions

There has been improved collaboration with NZFOA (Phil Taylor, David Rhodes, and Don Carson) to put out press releases on issues of concern. So far these have been mostly in reaction to Beef & Lamb NZ’s Baker Ag report of areas planted, which also led to a radio interview on “The Country”. There was also a response to a letter by the mayors of Wairoa and Tararua District Council who were encouraging other councils to join an initiative to resist forestry as a land use. I suggest we need to continue to push back on anti-forestry initiatives before they become dogma, in collaboration with the NZFOA (who often take the lead). This will defend our members’ interests and help give the NZFFA a higher profile.

During the month Egon responded to the consultation document “Designing a Governance Framework for the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme” and working with the NZFOA created a joint submission that was sent in before the deadline on 17 September.

Thanks to all members who have assisted with the work over this period.

Graham West, NZFFA President

Quick Links

  • Listen Why would you want to own a forest?  The forestry industry is beset by supply chain issues, port disruptions, oversupply in China, sky-high shipping rates, the Delta disaster … and that’s before you even look at the difficulties of cutting down the trees... The Detail RNZ 13 September 2021
  • Watch Going Bush  A couple quickly realised that parts of their new farm were too steep to graze stock easily, so they've planted the gullies in high-value native timber that can eventually be logged. Hyundai Country Calendar Season 2021, Episode 27 
  • Participate Forest Growers Research Conference register for the Free Webinar sessions that will be held 19-21 Ocotber 2021 instead of the planned Nelson Conference.
  • Taking a human approach working in the forestry industry Gisborne Herald 25 September 2021
  • Lord of the Rings pine forest destroyed by storms An unassuming pine plantation that put the small rural town of Tarras on the map of Lord of the Rings fans has been destroyed by alpine thunder-and-lightning storms worthy of a battle between Gandalf and the Balrog. Otago Daily Times 24 September 2021
  • Watch National Campaign Launch or the Campaign Video for the beautiful Eastwoodhill National Arboretum of NZ 


Photo Credit: Michael Gravatt


For more information on these events, they are posted on the NZFFA website »
Branch secretaries, please make sure you notify head office of any branch or action group events.

Specialty Wood Products - any questions?

The Specialty Wood Products group has pubished a list of the papers and projects that it has recently completed, and that growers might like to read before the annual Forest Growers Research Conference to be now held by via a free webinar from October 19-21. It includes five papers on Eucalypts, two on Cypress and one on Douglas fir, as well as contingency and alternative species in general. Some of this work will be presented at Conference 2022, so here's a chance for those attending to think up some gnarly questions. You'll find the papers via this link

Share your shots

On every field trip there are keen photographers taking shots of all manner of things. Some are great, and deserve to be shared. To help add zing to the NZFFA website and newsletter, would you let us display some of them with your name? We don't want to own them, just show them.

We know we are a really interesting bunch of people, but the public don't. Your photos can help build our public image. Michael Gravatt is starting to build a photo library with shots offered by willing members. If you'd like to influence the public with your great pictures please email  and he'll direct you to a shared file where you can post them. 

Pest Control

The environment committee of the FGLT is collecting information on how much the sector is spending annually on pest control.  This includes not just possums/stoats/goats, etc, but also plants (e.g. gorse spraying).  We should also value our time.

We could use an approach where we come up with a cost per ha, and then extrapolate this to arrive at a number for the approx. 300 000 ha of exotic forest which is managed by small growers.
For example costs are estimated at around $40/ha (possum bait labour, goat control, pest plants) if we value a grower's time at $50/hour – which is quite cheap. 

Would you be able to provide some estimates from your own experience?  We know farm foresters will be managing not only woodland but also other land uses, but if you can’t separate the pest control of one from the other just lump all the costs in together, with a standard labour cost of say $50 a man hour.  Every reply helps.  Please email your response to  

Farm Forestry Awards - Calling for Nominations

Nominations for awards to be given out at the AGM and NZFFA Conference 2022 are now being called for.

  1. Nominations from the branches must be signed by the branch chairperson.
  2. Only members of the NZFFA can be nominated.
  3. North Island branch nominations must in with Hamish Levack, and South Island branch nominations must be with Patrick Milne by 31 December 2021.  These guys will visit the nominees in early 2022 to carry out the judging.
  4. Contestants for the awards must be prepared to attend the 2022 NZFFA conference.
  5. Nomination rules and forms are available on request for:
    • Transpower Landcare Trust Grants Award for Innovation in Sustainable Farm Forestry [prize $2000]
    • North and South Island Husqvarna farm forester of the year – [North and South Island
    • Michael Hay Memorial award to a young member of the NZFFA who is planting and establishing trees.


Forest Grower Levy Trust Board (FGLT) Elections 2021 - Please Vote!

Voting opens Thursday 11 October and closes Friday 22 October. Please put a reminder note on your fridge, and vote if you are eligible!

At the Executive Committee meeting on 15 September the Levy Board elections were discussed and agreement was reached to strategically use this election to better position the NZFFA.  The Executive decided that the President would be the best person to represent members’ interests on the Board.  Hence I was asked, and have accepted, the nomination to stand as a Small Scale Forest Owner representative (<1000ha).

Voting opens Thursday 11 October 2021 and closes Friday 22 October 2021, please put a reminder note on you fridge!

The outcome we are seeking is to create a tighter link between the NZFFA and the Levy Board.  With the President on the Board the NZFFA should have more opportunities to put our point of view, and to perhaps exert more influence than an independent candidate.  To build our organisation we need to be seen as representing the interests of the members and achieving better outcomes from the levy.  When a new NZFFA President is appointed, we hope they will automatically replace me on the Board.  The NZFOA president has been on the Board for some time.

Following the resignation of Steve Wilton, there are two Small Scale Forest Owner positions available on the Levy Board in this election.  We expect Bert Hughes will be nominated by the investment forestry sector, and we endorse Bert as a very suitable replacement for Steve. Bert is also a NZFFA member.

Obviously anyone can be nominated and members eligible to vote may vote for the candidate of their choice.  If you are eligible to vote then please do so, for whoever you choose.  We need to prove to the Levy Board that the NZFFA is a full partner with NZFOA, as was intended at the outset.  Strong participation  carries weight and the more members who vote, the stronger we become.  Let’s show them!

I look forward to discussing the result with you at our next Council Meeting on 30th November.

All the best, Thank you

Graham West, President


NZFFA 2022 Subscription renewal notices

NZFFA 2022 Subscription renewal notices will be sent out via email in the first week of December 2021. Only those members without email addresses will receive renewal notices by post.

Subscriptions can be paid by credit card using our online system, providing your credit card details to the National Office, or direct credit via internet banking. CHEQUES CAN NO LONGER BE ACCEPTED.

Please note that if subscriptions are unpaid by the end of February 2022, members will not receive the Tree Grower magazine, this National newsletter or be a financial member of their branch or action group.

Please support the NZFFA and your Branch or Action Group by paying promptly. 


What if we built more timber buildings and fewer concrete and steel ones?

Grant Hunter, North Canterbury Branch

North Canterbury Branch Member, Emeritus Professor of Timber Design at University of Canterbury, and timber engineering consultant,  Prof. Andy Buchanan has recently updated a report, originally prepared in 1999, for Te Uru Rakau, NZ Forest Service, quantifying the embodied carbon benefits of increasing the number of timber buildings in New Zealand.

The authors consulted with the construction industry to come up with an estimate of “what would be reasonably possible in the market”. They settled on about half the current annual steel and concrete building construction in NZ being converted to timber construction.  They categorised these buildings as house foundations, apartments, office/education/commercial, factories/storage, and farm buildings. 

Image Credit:

They calculated a reduction in total CO2 emissions arising from this magnitude of change of around 2% of total NZ CO2 emissions (all sources), a small but significant benefit. At $NZ 50/tonne of CO2, the value of this reduction is $NZ 50 million.

The increase in timber quantities to make this change is 650,000 cubic metres of wood product per year, 90% being Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). The increased volume of sawn timber, LVL and plywood is more modest.  

At a conversion rate of 50%, the total increased wood supply would require an additional 1.3 million cubic metres of logs, an 8% increase over current NZ annual consumption of 16 million cubic metres of logs. The increased log volume is 6% of current NZ log exports. 

The biggest challenge with this volume increase is the lack of manufacturing facilities for engineered wood products. The only CLT factory in NZ, Red Stag Wood Solutions in Rotorua, has a planned annual capacity of 50,000 m3, less than 10% of the predicted increase in demand. 

Soil Conservation Project Benefits Environment and Community

Gina McKenzie, Real Communications

Reduced amounts of sediment and phosphorus are entering Hurunui and Kaikoura waterways while closer community connections are being created thanks to a four-year, $4.1 million Soil Conservation and Revegetation (SCAR) project funded by Environment Canterbury, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and landowners.

Some 9000 poplar and willow poles have been planted on 76 hill country farms during the first three winters of the project which promotes soil stabilisation and improved soil management in areas subject to erosion and high winds.

Over four years the programme aims to deliver 20,000 poles, fence off, plant, and retire 238 hectares of land for native reversion, deliver 82 land use capability maps to landowners, and share learnings on soil conservation at workshops in Hurunui and Kaikoura districts.

Environment Canterbury land management and biodiversity advisor Andrew Turnbull says having staff who can communicate effectively with the farming community as well as having good farm systems knowledge has been vital to the success of the project to date.

“We take the time to get to know the farmers individually and we have developed good relationships with them,” he said. “It is all about putting yourself in the farmer’s shoes and strengthening those connections, but still having the ability to have courageous conversations if needed.

“We’ve had farmers who are not keen in the beginning become our biggest supporters when they realise that we’re there to offer advice and to support them to protect and improve the hillside areas of their farms by providing them with the tools which help minimise soil erosion on hill country land.”

Members of the North Canterbury Farm Forestry Group take part in a poplar pole planting event at Mt Cass Station near Waipara in Hurunui.

Simplifying application processes and having excellent support from the project co-ordinator has helped get more farmers involved.

“Farmers are busy and don’t want to be bogged down with paperwork, so we have made it really quick and simple for them to get involved in the project.”

The poplars and willows are supplied by Environment Canterbury’s nursery located off Baynons Road in Clarkville, near the Waimakariri River. Nursery manager Steve Tuer says the five-hectare site provides thousands of trees each year for the project and river control.

He understands that some people may question the use of poplars and willows because these have a reputation as pest plants, but modern species of poplar and willow clones have been developed for soil conservation purposes and lack the invasive characteristics of their predecessors.

“Some people are surprised that we are using poplars and willows, but they are the most suitable trees for erosion-prone, exposed hillsides as natives would never survive in those conditions due to their fragile nature and weaker root systems,” Andrew said. “Only poplars and willows can grow the extensive root system required to quickly stabilise hillsides.

“Our main variety of poplars are Veronese and Fraser as they are best suited to the conditions. They can grow up to 20 or 30 metres high. We plant them at 10 to 15 metre spacings when they are three metres tall.”

Reducing environmental waste is also an important feature of the nursery with leftover cuttings and poles turned into mulch which is added back into the soil.

Andrew says taking a catchment-based approach to the project and supporting and enhancing existing areas of biodiversity is important and he appreciates the sharing of knowledge that takes place during farm visits.

“Farmers are giving up their time to be involved in this project and by getting to know more about areas they have already developed, we can work together with them and their neighbours to create better holistic outcomes for everyone involved.

“The project also provides farmers with evidence for their Farm Environment Plans and builds resilience into their farming operation, along with reducing their overall carbon footprint and achieving good water quality outcomes.”

“We’re looking forward to continuing to develop these relationships while improving environmental outcomes during the second half of the project.”

For more information please email: or phone 0800 324 636.



President: Graham West

Newsletter editor: Dean Satchell

National Office: Liz Chamberlain Phone: 04 4720432

NZFFA Executive »

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Disclaimer: Personal views expressed in this newsletter are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the NZ Farm Forestry Association.

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