Newsletter 140, March 2022
In this issue
We live in interesting times, perhaps too interesting, since our last newsletter in December more change and social disruption from COVID has hindered our meetings, field days, and conference. This situation appears likely to continue for at least the next 6 months and we will have to make the best of it by working together and maintaining good communication.
National Council Meeting – Zoom
Planning for the next National Council Meeting and AGM is progressing for Friday the 8th of April (thankyou Don and Liz). The meeting will again be via video conference and we will all need to be well prepared and concise in our communication if we want to achieve progress on the major issues and action items.
The revised business case for engaging an Operations Contractor/s has been sent to all Branches seeking funding support for one year. The initial response from branches (and one action group) has been positive with 10 offers totalling $44,000. However, little reaction has been received from about 16 Branches and we would like to hear from you before the Council meeting please.
The Neil Barr Forestry Foundation Fund has approved a request for $20,000. This is fantastic support, and we look likely to achieve our goal of at least $70k, with a little more from Branches.
National Field days Forestry Hub
As part of an MPI/FGLT/industry organising committee, I have represented NZFFA at weekly meetings to urgently plan for the large forestry display at the National Field Days. However, as you probably know they are now postponed until 30th November – 3rd December. Covid and the uncertainty around supply chains and building supplies has made it very difficult for this to occur in June. This postponement will allow for a better display that needs to fill a large marque (35mx25m).
The Farm Forestry Assoc has secured a large corner of the marque and will feature at least 5 species (led by the Action Groups) and will have professional design input. Our display is located near Tane Tree Trust for collaboration on the indigenous forest element. It is also adjacent the CNI Wood Councils “All the wood products one person consumes in a year” (on average) display which I participate in. There is a lot of industry engagement (about 24 organisation/businesses) and many exciting things (like two Pods of Harvesting Simulators) planned. I will provide you with an update on the general design when the plan is more certain.
As mentioned in the Council meeting, I have been exploring the possibility of this development to improve the positioning and constituency of the organisation within the sector. Due to the Covid turmoil and Carbon Forestry developments, it has not been a priority for the organisations I’ve approached. However, it is looking very positive and requires further formalisation.
The general approach is to offer a bulk price for their membership to access (using a single login), our website, national newsletter, field days, and possibly an electronic version of Tree Grower. To participate in the running of the organisation or get a printed version of Tree Grower they will need to become full individual members. We will update you on the proposal and progress with this in the Council Meeting.
Several of your Executive are involved in the Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) Forest Grower Levy Trust Committee. An important message - the only secure route to accessing FGLT Funds is via one of the eight FGLT eight committees. See https://fglt.org.nz/work-programme.
Each committee gets an allocation of funds from the Board early in the year. By far the largest allocation is to the Research Committee – around $5m/yr. Our representatives on the research committee are Angus Gordon and John Schrider. I suggest our communication with these representatives needs to be improved and possibly we need better mechanisms for members to express their priorities for Levy expenditure. The next FGLT Board meeting is on 30 March, I will be able to give a general update from this in the Council Meeting.
Permanent Carbon/Land use issue
A discussion paper was released to the sector on “Managing Forestry Land Use under the Influence of Carbon” by Alexander Yule on the 16th of February. The report was sponsored by 16 District Councils, Local Govt NZ, and B&L NZ. The NZFFA executive provided a response (6 Pages) on 25 February.
A Zoom meeting of forestry leaders with Minister Nash (1st March) somewhat forewarned me of the impending changes occurring within the ministers thinking on this. The following day I was one of 13 invited presenters to a webinar on “Managing land use under the influence of Carbon” introduced by Minster Nash and run by Alexander Yule. There were 160+ watching the webinar. The link to the recorded webinar is available in this newsletter – but be warned it runs for 3.5 hours. I received some positive feedback on our position, however the structure allowed little interaction and presenters could not ask questions except by the Chat option.
The next day it was extremely annoying to receive an MPI/MFE discussion document “Managing exotic afforestation incentives”. Clearly the webinar was a waste of time, Minister Nash and Shaw had already approved a paper with proposed changes to the ETS, it didn’t matter what we had said in the webinar. The government proposal is to remove exotic species from the Permanent Carbon option in the ETS, starting 1 Jan 2023.
There is a follow up webinar organised by Alexander Yule (2.00PM 30th March) to now discuss policies, hopefully there is more interaction allowed.
The executive has discussed the MPI/MFE Carbon Forestry Proposals and are currently working on a NZFFA submission. Our stance on this issue is there is now an urgency to address climate change mitigation and the option for exotic species to be used in permanent carbon forests is needed to make any practical progress on reducing net emissions. It is also a basic property right for us to choose what land use we think best and not have further regulations implemented by Regional Councils. We will update you on this in the Council meeting.
We recognise that there are diverse views on Permanent Carbon Forests, hence we hope to represent the majority and will not attempt to achieve consensus. I strongly encourage everyone to express their views and make a personal submission. Submissions need to be
in by 22 April.
The various media statements we have recently made are not getting cut through and there is little pickup within the news services. What may be needed is a simple catch cry or slogan that gets picked up and repeated. Something the public and politicians remember. Something like “Right tree, right place, right purpose”. While the sector has had (NZFOA driven) campaigns with “Love our forests” and now “Time for wood”, campaigns that were appropriate at the time, the issues we are now engaged in have changed. The current issues we may want to influence are environmental and land use regulation. Potentially several new regulations around participation in the Emission Trading Scheme, the National Policy Statement on water quality, and National Policy Statement on biodiversity, could have an adverse impact on us if we aren’t engaged.
I suggest our submissions and communications could have more pick-up if enhanced by some simple sector phrases, e.g., Fonterra’s “Dairy for life”, and Beef & Lamb NZ “By farmers for farmers”, NZ Wine Assoc “Made with care”. I’ve been developing some ideas with people that aren’t involved in forestry, to see what resonates with the public. This has been picked up by Don Carson, Promotions Manager for FGLT. He agrees and has taken the suggestion further with the NZ FOA Executive. They are suggesting the programme that will use a series of rural billboards. We have discussed this in the executive and agree NZFFA needs to be more proactive in promoting forestry and the value of the association.
If you are supportive of this idea and have a roadside woodlot, especially on a major highway, we would like to engage you on the possibility of erecting a sign. The approach we suggest is to develop a series of catch phrases, some around benefits of trees, their role in climate change, the facts around biodiversity. I will develop this further with you in the Council meeting.
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.
- NZFFA AGM 2022 Friday 8 April 2022 1pm via Zoom Please note this year's AGM will be held via Zoom at 1pm on Friday 8 April 2022. The Zoom meeting details will be…
- Forest Biosecurity update March 2022 March, 2022. Check out the latest Biosecurity newsletter which gives an update on the biosecurity surveillance system, pitch pine canker, red needle cast, tortoise beetles, a new ladybird (always good) and the…
- Forest Owners says IPCC doesn't back Anne Salmond March, 2022. The Forest Owners Association says highly qualified reservations in the latest International Panel on Climate Change report, do not back anthropologist Anne Salmond’s claims that New Zealand should switch exclusively…
- Forest Owners puzzled at overseas investment reform February, 2022. The Forest Owners Association is asking why the government needs to reintroduce more process around overseas investment for conversions from pasture to plantation forests. The Associate Minister of Finance, David…
- Forest Owners tell government to look across the Tasman February, 2022. The Forest Owners Association is telling the government that Australia’s support of plantation forestry is in sharp contrast to the increasingly restrictive measures being promised in New Zealand by our…
- The folly of the native forest carbon solution February, 2022. The Farm Forestry Association says anthropologist Dame Anne Salmond’s recently publicised views, that planting native forests offer the best solution to the climate crisis, is misinformed and misleading. Association President Graham West says the overwhelming…
- Forestry Minister has strategic leadership opportunity in farm forestry February, 2022. The Farm Forestry Association says Forestry Minister, Stuart Nash, should incentivise farmers to plant more trees to combat climate change. Association President Graham West asks, “Why isn’t the government working…
- Forest Owners challenge Federated Farmers to prove misleading carbon farming claims February, 2022. The Forest Owners Association is telling Federated Farmers that it needs to educate itself about how the Overseas Investment Act works before making any more false claims about non-existent overseas…
- Further tax changes possible January, 2022. Changes are possible to the ‘cost of standing timber’ provisions of the Income Tax Act. Farm Forestry members have been working to help willing owners aggregate their forests for economies…
- NZFFA AGM minutes » 2022 AGM Documentation
- Council minutes and reports » Business Case For funding projects to be completed by an Operations Contractor
- Council minutes and reports » 9 December 2021 Council Meeting Minutes draft
I'm watching from the sidelines as a last ditch effort unfolds to save the organisation in its current form. It's undeniably difficult to let go of something that satisfies a shrinking traditional membership base in favour of something new. But that is what's required to transform the organisation into a representative body for the small and medium forest grower. The wheels were set in motion a decade ago to represent that industry sector and its time to let go of the past and focus on the needs of existing levy payers and future levy payers.
Although a recipe for success in the past, traditional farm forestry isn't about the forest resource and generating revenue from forests as a productive land use, but more about improving the visual farm landscape using trees. Using trees for fodder, shelter and shade are now the domain of the agricultural sector, soil erosion is for regional councils and tree hugging is for eccentric environmentalists. Our role is now to support the productive land user growing trees for income.
To become an industry body requires a transformation. We currently squander our levy funding to prop up our traditional role of a farm social club, provide the membership magazine and a head office to support the exclusive membership. This is not the role of an industry body. An industry body uses its levy funding to efficiently inform the whole industry on the important issues. The growers levy has provided us financial support to do just that, but instead we've chosen to have a go at using levy funding to prop up our floundering exclusive membership club ahead of being a representative body for the forest grower community.
I have made no secret of the solution to this. But digesting that isn't easy when efforts remain focussed on how to retain the status quo. And if you're too long in the tooth to log into a website or open emails, then you shouldn't expect the organisation to flounder to meet your needs. Growers that want their business venture to succeed exist in the new world of electronic communications. So do I have to wait for the organisation to fall on its sword before anyone will listen?
We don't need the Tree Grower magazine. We don't need a head office. We don't even need a membership subscription to transform. The growers levy support we receive is more than adequate to provide the services that all growers require. Growers don't need to be part of an exclusive subscription-based association, that is old school. They want to know about local field trips and seminars, they want to know what's happening out there, but they don't want to pay for it. This isn't about being too tight-arsed to pay a membership levy, it's just modern society and the reality of the electronic world we now live in. We have the technology - our communications platform is fully integrated with our website. Our content management system is our head office. There are now 2,500 non-member growers registered with us, that each receive our communications at no cost. Unfortunately, our content remains exclusive to the membership because we are a subscription-based organisation based on one very expensive form of communication - the Tree Grower quarterly magazine.
I'm not talking about getting rid of the Tree Grower. I'm talking about getting rid of the paper publication and publishing the articles online. A Tree Grower article arriving in your email inbox once a week, archived and accessible on the website. Yep, no more exclusive $25 club magazines to gather dust in a pile somewhere. Try finding going back through your pile of magazines to find an article and compare that with a simple search on the website. Did you even know that the last 15 years of Tree Grower articles are archived and searchable on our website? Have you tried reading one of these articles on your screen, or have you convinced yourself that you can only read something that's printed on paper? Can you dare to imagine a world where you go to our website for information using your smartphone? Can you imagine a world without your quarterly paper magazine?
The global consensus has been to shift away from paper journals and into online publications. Articles are read on devices in spare time. I just ask that you dare to imagine a new paradigm, a world where articles arrive in your inbox every week or two at no cost, courtesy of the growers levy, articles like this that are rich in information that have no associated publication cost:
The small forest grower wants to know about species research, forest establishment, silviculture, harvesting, national and regional rules and log market information. Information relating specifically to production forestry and trees as a productive land use.
Then, as the industry body representing our sector, we also provide a regular newsletter that communicates hot issues and events:
I don't believe the levy board would hesitate funding this if it were available to all growers, not just the exclusive members club. Even the annual conference might receive funding if the focus were on forestry, and the organisations survival would be assured.
That leaves branches. Branches are voluntary, independent groups that in the past required subscription revenue to print and post paper newsletters. Most of them now email their membership, so do branches really still require a subscription levy to function? The few branches continuing to publish paper newsletters are stretching their volunteer base to the limits, only to delay the inevitable. Perhaps they just don't know how easy it is to publish and distribute branch newsletters via our web system?
Administration of our membership is a significant cost to the organisation, second only to the Tree Grower. So do we need either of these? Nope, not to function as an industry body.
My favourite quote "Paradigms fall slowly, from the weight of repeated failure". We risk losing it all by not transforming. We'll get swallowed up by the Forest Owners Association and nobody will be left to represent the smaller grower and our history will be erased. Not something the many volunteers who have put decades of effort into the organisation will want to see happen.
Comment on this editorial here »
Increasing New Zealand Unit (NZU) price is driving higher rates of afforestation, particularly fast-growing permanent exotic forests. This is raising concern amongst industry groups and community organisations on the risk of permanent exotic forests displacing other productive land-uses such as production forestry and sheep and beef farming.
In the Government’s media release it notes that it has listened to submissions and confirmed the risk that the new permanent forest category and high NZU prices could accelerate the establishment of new permanent exotic forests which are not intended for harvest.
To manage these risks, the Government has produced a Discussion Document to consult on:
- Whether to prevent exotic forests from registering in the permanent post-1989 category in the NZ ETS. This to ensure any legislative changes can be passed by Parliament before this category commences on 1 January 2023.
- A proposal to adjust how the new carbon accounting method in the NZ ETS (averaging accounting) applies to remote and marginal land for harvesting. This is to reflect the later harvest age and extra carbon stored in some forests on remote and marginal to harvest land.
- Opportunities for improving incentives for indigenous afforestation, following on from the Emissions Reduction Plan consultation late last year.
The discussion document provides information on these topics and seeks feedback on a number of questions contained within the document. Submissions are currently open and will close on 22 April 2022.
President: Graham West email@example.com
Newsletter editor: Dean Satchell firstname.lastname@example.org
National Office: Liz Chamberlain email@example.com Phone: 04 4720432
|Disclaimer: Personal views expressed in this newsletter are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the NZ Farm Forestry Association.|