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Newsletter 141, May 2022

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In this issue

President's Update

April has been dominated by actions around addressing the proposed changes to the ETS. Particularly the proposed dropping of the Stock Change accounting and the exclusion of exotic species from the Permanent Forest category

National Council Meeting – Zoom

The National Council Meeting and AGM was run by Zoom on Friday the 8th of April. The meeting went very well, and we had 51 connected to the AGM Zoom session. My thanks to all that contributed, the communication was concise and helpful. We seemed to be getting quite accustomed to this style of meeting.

Fund raising for engaging Operations Contractor/s has received a great response with a total of $87,000 achieved. This includes a $20,000 from the Neil Barr Forestry Foundation Fund. This is fantastic support, and we thank all Branches that contributed and the two Action Groups that also provided funds.

National Field days Forestry Hub 

Steady progress is being made on this and it is shaping up to be fantastic. There is a lot of industry engagement (about 24 organisations/businesses) and many exciting things (e.g., two Pods of Harvesting Simulators) are planned. I provided an update on the general design to the Council meeting. 

Associate membership

As mentioned in the Council meeting, I have been developing the possibility of having associate memberships with other forestry organisations. To date we have two organisations that want to take up the offer. They are the National Māori Forestry Association and NZ Carbon Farming. These linkages will help raise our profile through a wider group of contacts. It also allows us to support other organisations with the wealth of practical knowledge and experience maintained within our website and membership.

Permanent Carbon/Land use issue

The executive has discussed the MPI/MFE Carbon Forestry Proposals extensively and we have compiled a 19-page submission which is a credit to all those that contributed. Our general position 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 and rapid progress on reducing net emissions. We provided the basic outline of our ideas to many members and encouraged them to make their own submission with emphasis on the major issues as they saw them.

One of the positive outcomes of this process is the strong engagement and sharing that these issues engendered. Many forestry professionals agreed on the need to retain the permanent carbon forest option. The scrutiny of the science and the radiata forest examples over 100 years indicated much of the claims against this option were emotional and political.


As developed further in the Council meeting, we are in the process of taking a more proactive and positive approach to publicity. This involves all members, please do not leave it to your Executive to do, it is something to be led by Branch Committees and for you to control the messaging. We are working toward suppling materials for local billboards and one slogan that seemed to be favoured is “Farm foresters - climate heroes”.

Please develop your own and let the public know we support forestry and think it’s the solution to many of New Zealand’s issues. 

Be proud of your organisation.

Graham West, NZFFA President


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.



Bungalow Balgowlah - Australia (KLH) was the 21st Australian Timber Design Awards Sustainability Winner in the WOW awards.

Submissions on Managing Exotic Afforestation Incentives

A number of excellent submissions have been produced by a range of submitters, each of them explaining why Minister Nash's policy proposal for the permanent category of the ETS to be restricted to natives, is misinformed and perilous for the required transformation to a sustainable bioeconomy.

It seems Governments priority around planting natives is misled by a bandwagon gaining steam and fed by a Climate Change Commission lacking in any subject matter expertise. With their recommendations being unfounded in reality, its no wonder so many involved in forestry are outraged that the minister has snapped them up, hook line and sinker. Being properly infomed is the basis of good political decisions. 

The NZ Farm Forestry Association put in a submission, focussing on the need for urgency to address global warming and the need for pragmatism in the face of inaction. Fast growing exotic tree species are needed immediately and at scale to buy time.

The Forest Owners Association submission focussed on the Climate Change Commissions recommended planting goals and that New Zealand risks not meeting its emissions targets by following Government's native forest agenda.

Euan Mason from the University of Canterbury School of Forestry provided a comprehensive submission on the role of forestry in extracting CO2 out of the atmosphere, by comparing carbon sequestration in native forest with exotic forests. We will fail to meet our climate change targets if we mandate native species in permanent carbon forests, clearly a government over-reaction unsupported by current knowledge. The knowledge gaps require research that would then allow better policy decisions to be made, while meantime management plans could be used to mitigate "unwanted outcomes" from permanent exotic forests.

Keith Woodford from Lincoln University provided a sensible, balanced commentary on the issue, while the Climate Forestry Association commissioned a report stating that excluding exotic permanent forests from the ETS could cost the economy $64 billion in the coming 15 years. "The problem is not caused by the species. It's not caused by exotic trees. It's caused by the lack of management requirements on these forests". Indeed the forestry members of the Forest and Wood Products Industry Transformation Plan completely agree that the issue is one of management rather than species in their submission, noting the vision of a prosperous industry and future bioeconomy is at risk from this poorly thought through policy proposal. Maori are outraged and are threatening legal action at the removal of their rights to make a living from their whenua.

Lastly, Farm Forester Kees Weytmans described his unsuccessful efforts at establishing native trees in the Gisborne herald, while his exotics are actively holding the soil in place on his steep slopes. When I think about the anti-exotic sentiment rolling along with the bandwagon, the term "species apartheid" springs to mind. How did we get here with forests, while we rely entirely on exotic species for primary production, including the grasses and animals that are the "backbone" of our economy?

These submissions are just the tip of the iceberg of an overwhelmingly negative response to Minister Stuart Nash's policy proposal. The hope is that Te Uru Rakau officials now become adequately informed on the issues, to inform a sensible course of action by the minister. 



Expanding New Zealand’s Specialty Wood Products Sector

Climate change, emissions reduction targets, biosecurity risks and changing public/consumer preferences are motivating new thinking to diversify and expand New Zealand’s production forestry industry into exotic specialty timbers.

This significant opportunity to expand the specialty wood products sector’s contribution to New Zealand’s emerging circular bio-economy is via scaled-up planting and processing of hardwood and softwood production forests in strategic locations throughout the country. 

If realised, this proposal will: 

  • support New Zealand’s transition to a low-emission, climate resilient economy, based largely on renewable resources, and meeting medium-term net emissions reduction targets
  • increase the resilience of regional communities and economies by diversifying land use in the face of future climate extremes 
  • reduce the high-cost and supply chain-risks associated with importing over $440 million worth of exotic hardwood and softwood timber annually
  • mitigate the biological and market risks associated with the vast majority of New Zealand exotic forests being only one species.

Our specific vision is for the development of a multi-regional New Zealand specialty wood products industry, based on 200,000 hectares of new exotic hardwood and softwood production forests planted by 2050. These forests would sustainably supply logs into a new supply chain that we expect will generate $2 billion per annum from solid wood, engineered wood, and wood fibre products, and employ up to 5,000 FTEs.  Critically, the forests would also significantly contribute to New Zealand’s net emissions targets by achieving faster early carbon sequestration compared to planted native forests.

Forest Growers Research is proposing to establish an inter-generational and collaborative work programme that removes market barriers and de-risks investment.  Development of a speciality wood products sector would align with Te Uru Rākau’s Forestry Industry Transformation Plan, Government’s ‘Fit for a Better World’ vision and Emissions Reduction Plan, Scion’s new Trees to High Value Wood Products portfolio and the forest industry’s own roadmap, which identified diversification of species and forestry systems as a key strategy.

To achieve this vision, the following five workstreams are proposed:

  1. Expand and strengthen the current specialty wood supply chain. This includes developing the small-medium scale harvesting and sawmilling sectors, adding to the estimated $80 million annual value of this sector, thus extracting additional value from some of the 70,000-hectare existing specialty species resource. This workstream will investigate harvesting challenges under continuous cover regimes and integrated pasture/forest landscapes, to produce revenue while enhancing social licence to operate at the primary sector level. Sustainable exotic specialty timber forestry and high-value wood production will deliver ecosystem services and increase the resilience of our landscapes and built environments for our regional communities.
  2. Develop future markets. This programme will identify and then address the current market barriers for specialty timbers. This will include research into knowledge gaps in the design and construction sector through the newly established New Zealand Timber Design Center (NZTDC).
  3. Support the development of efficient specialty wood processing operations producing engineered wood and other products. This programme will evaluate the economic viability of investment in innovative and efficient processing facilities that complement the scale of the resource, to then develop effective pathways to facilitate investment in scaleable processing.
  4. Expand New Zealand’s plantation resource of exotic specialty hardwood and softwood. Our vision is to establish 200,000 ha of specialty hardwood and softwood forests by 2050 in up to 40 strategically sited wood supply catchments centred on regional processing operations with the support of local communities and iwi. Increased planting rates of specialty timber woodlots on farms will diversify land use and increase environmental resilience. An extension programme is required that builds regional partnerships that unite forestry and farming as complimentary productive land uses, to build confidence in establishing trees and forests across appropriate landscapes in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  5. Maximise the value derived from specialty wood forests through research and technology. There is huge potential to develop integrated and symbiotic processing clusters that utilise all harvested material, from logs to residuals. These clusters will deliver the bioeconomy via a range of co-products that generate revenue and regional employment on a sustainable basis. A diversity of feedstocks (both hardwood and softwood) is required to realise the full potential of wood as the foundation of a bio-economy. 
  6. Strengthen sustainability of New Zealand’s specialty wood resource.  A national inventory that establishes archives for living germplasm and for seed banking the diverse range of exotic specialty wood species, would future-proof the forestry sector and increase resilience to pests, diseases and climate change.

Current research and development initiatives provide a solid foundation for the delivery of this industry development programme to expand the sector. We will build on the gains obtained via the Specialty Wood products Partnership by widening these initiatives into an ‘all of supply chain’ strategy. However, to successfully deliver a transformative programme that expands the growing, processing and market development of exotic specialty hardwoods and softwoods, a long-term commitment is required from both central government and the primary industry.


National Exotic Forest Description Survey

The NEFD Survey is getting an upgrade.

We are using a new survey tool for the National Exotic Forest Description (NEFD) this year. This new online tool has been designed to make it easier for forest owners and managers such as yourselves to fill out the survey.

This new survey tool will also help MPI, NZFOA, and NZFFA improve the quality and timeliness of the NEFD for all stakeholders.

What’s staying the same:

Most of the questions are unchanged, so if you’ve filled out the NEFD questionnaire before, we think you’ll get familiar with the new system with ease. 

You will still see your previous survey responses, so for those of you with no changes since last time you’ll be through the survey in no time.

Your privacy will stay protected. We do not release any information which may identify a forest owner.

If you prefer to continue filling out the paper survey or emailing us a spreadsheet with your responses, you can keep doing that.

What’s new:

We will be opening it up to anyone who wants to fill in the survey – no bottom limit of 40 hectares.

We will be asking you to tell us where your trees are by using an interactive map tool or by sending us ArcGIS files. This will help us locate any missing forests and estimate smaller woodlots with more precision.

We want forest owners to include all exotic forest area, including both production forests and permanent carbon forests.

We are adding one question about how much of your forest is intended for harvest. This will help with wood availability forecasts. We’re only asking about current plans – we won’t be holding you to them or comparing any previous responses.

What action do I need to take?

If you’ve participated in the survey previously, look out for an email from us in June asking you to set up an online account and fill out the new survey online.

If you want to participate for the first time, please provide your contact details via, and we will add your name to the contact list.


Hawkes Bay Branch - Waiwhare Sawmilling Field Day Report

Report by Kevin Thomsen, extracted from the Hawkes Bay Branch Newsletter, March 2022

An excellent number of over 30 attended this specialised field day from as far as Wellington and Foxton.

Tim Forde introduced our host for the day, Graeme Fountaine, who outlined the day's programme. This led on to individual reports by operators of their own mills. They explained the reasons for their portable mill preferences, the tree species they had milled including results both good and bad obtained from the logs. A number of timber samples were displayed and their end-use described.

Conifer species (Cypress, Cedars, Douglas fir and Redwood) are the most versatile and accepted timbers for untreated end-use in the present market. Successfully used for above ground exterior use or internal framing, cladding or furniture.

Poplar has great potential for both untreated and treated uses – one example given was for the logs exterior wood used in making mallets. It has very strong and resilient properties.

Eucalypts are a challenge to successfully mill and dry but depending on species do have a lot of potential for flooring and decking, with the naturally durable species for posts and poles.

One comment that was made is the need to move the timber out of the direct sunlight to a shaded, cool site with some form of rain cover over the top of it. Hawke's Bay has a lot of 'air-dry wind', particularly in the spring, which can dry the timber too quickly in the initial stages.

After lunch a tour was taken to Graeme's portable mill site, where he described his milling experience with trees from adjacent blocks of Cupressus macrocarpa, Acacia melanoxylon, Eucalyptus nitens and Cedrus deodara (old tree from the local school site). The main destination of the timber is a house being built by Graeme’s son Hamish. Some of the E. nitens was milled into 'garden sleepers' for sale, plus rails and battens for farm use.

A walk through the edge of a block of older C. macrocarpa led to a discussion of future management of it as trees are selectively harvested. It was pointed out that a number of seedlings are emerging within the block which could be nurtured to a future crop. It would be very difficult to change species unless larger sections were cleared. Most of Hawke's Bay is prone to serious infection of the fungal 'canker' with traditional C. macrocarpa being susceptible. Possibly the new strains that are presently under-going trial plantings around New Zealand will be resistant. A recommended alternative worth considering is Oven's cypress Cupressusocyparis ovensii (a cross between Chamaecyparis nootkatensis and Cupressus lusitanica).

An excellent day, with a lot of practical experience from sawmill operators. Thank you to the Fountaine family for hosting us on their property, plus providing drinks and food at the end of the day.


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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