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A new Future for NZFFA - How do we present NZFFA to new members?

Wednesday, April 28, 2021, John Channings' Blog

What needs to be done to reinvent the NZFFA organisation into one that attracts new membership and in particular lifestylers?

I think the first priority is to turn the organisation from being an inward looking one to an outward looking one. This distinction would not have made sense in Neil Barr’s time but with the advent of the internet, communicating out into cyberspace is the new game.

Certainly, a modernised website is required as the current one is obviously out of date. 

Within the present website, members can create their own blogs which members have done. But it is a waste as they are hidden inside the website. There are many of them. They get little or no traffic and they dilute any message they try and communicate in their separateness.

A blog is a most useful feature of the internet; it is where in-depth articles can be posted and commented on. But there needs to be only one, that is highly visible and regularly contributed to.

Another feature of a modernised website to consider is the incorporation of a dedicated ‘Discussion Forum’ as exists for many special interest groups on the internet. Such a Forum builds over time a library of participant’s knowledge and experiences and can be a most useful learning resource for tree planters. It could serve as a one stop shop for all the Special Interest Groups within NZFFA and bring their efforts into a coordinated easily accessed place.

I hear you say that we already have a discussion group on Facebook, why do we need another?

In fact, NZFFA has two presences on Facebook; the discussion group that is getting a good number of posts and comments but is a closed group of only 1000. While everyone has arguments for closed groups, I don’t think they apply in this instance as the organisation and its issues need to be aired publicly. By comparison the ‘Permaculture in NZ’ group  has 15,000 members, is public and those 15,000 members would largely be lifestylers. 

The other (main) NZFFA Facebook page is being used mostly to post field days and is getting few comments. There is a lost opportunity here.

A note on Facebook; while I can’t deny its effectiveness or popularity, I do remind you of its limitations. Little in depth dialogue is possible, it is too easy for it to drown in light weight and irrelevant throw away comments which is why I think the Blog and a dedicated and well moderated ‘Discussion Forum’ still are the best carriers of quality educational content and comments. Facebook is mostly an opportunity to tantalise and entertain those with short attention spans.


2 posts.

Post from Dean Satchell on April 30, 2021 at 12:01PM

John, what is it about the website that is so out of date? The facade? The content? Apparently you are saying that a modernised website has a members discusion forum and a highly visible blog?

Did you know that we've had such a forum for several years but because it is so rarely used it no longer features? Apparently farm foresters only debate issues on field days...

Would you like blogs to feature as a highest level menu item? I don't agree, the NZFFA website is more than just blogs. For a number of years every blog published has featured in the e-newsletter and gets excellent exposure that way. The problem is actually getting enough members to contribute their opinions. Farm forestry has not been an active community for some time. The system is in place to support activity, but the community are simply not active, likely because of the age demographic.

There is currently an attempt underway to revive the forest grower community. However, what is required is sensible input, collaboration and building of consensus. Before taking the pulpit, people should first consider the efforts of those doing the mahi and engage with them to understand what they know and have learned.

Post from Shem & Jen Kerr on May 2, 2021 at 4:49PM

Dean Satchell says:"There is currently an attempt underway to revive the forest grower community."

The constitution says: "The objects and powers of the Association shall be: (a)To promote the wise integration of trees, particularly in the form of shelterbelts and woodlots, into the New Zealand landscape, for profit, amenity purposes, sustainability and conservation"...."promoting and maintaining all forms of farm forestry".

I get the feeling that the association isn't simply about the forest grower community or those doing plantation forestry, but more about those who operate a mix of land based activities inclusive of the activity of growing (timber) trees.

Of course there's always someone wanting to improve on the web site.

My Two cents worth,


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

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