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President's Comment, November 2022

Graham West.

In the last three months the Executive has been busy responding to our current reformist government’s steady stream of policy changes that affect the forestry sector.

We have made four submissions in three months. While the proposed changes are primarily for the common good, they require considerable practical calibration and modification to avoid unintended consequences. For your awareness, the submissions made on your behalf were in response to – the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity, Emissions Trading Scheme Penalties regime, Emissions Trading Scheme Cost Recovery proposals, the Forest and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan. These have been led by Howard Moore, Julian Bateson and Egon Guttke. Thank you, and thanks to many others who contributed to this highquality output. This process emphasises the importance of maintaining the skills in the Executive to write well.

Associated with these submissions, there is a requirement for representation on numerous committees and key stakeholder groups. I can report there is considerable goodwill for a more united approach toward adoption and deployment of these new policies. Currently the forestry sector appears to be more comfortable supporting the government on achieving most of these initiatives than the farming sector. I suggest it is farm foresters who have made the early transition on these issues and can offer leadership in the primary sector. Go to it.

In August a coordinated effort by many volunteers completed 16 proposals to the Forest Growers Levy secretariat for funding next year. These applications totalled over $700,000 and were fed into four committees. Last year we achieved a 54 per cent success rate. By being better organised we will continue to push for a higher proportion of the funds available.

Concurrently, we have continued to raise our public profile. The design and implementation of a large display in the national field days forestry hub and the assembly of a significant squad of volunteers to tell the farm forestry story over four days will, I believe, make a difference. We also have completed the printing of 10 pro-farm forestry billboards and have begun the distribution and erection of these.  First branches to order these were Waikato, Bay of plenty, East Coast, Hawkes Bay and South Otago.

I suggest, the Industry Transformation Plan is the most significant opportunity for improvement of the sector we have been offered for a long time. Thanks to Dean Satchell’s input on the steering group, coupled with our submission on the draft plan and persistence in many following meetings, we have finally got some of the main issues, promoted by the NZFFA for some time, on the government’s agenda. Through this, the profile of forestry has been significantly enlarged in the political scene.

However, we now need to maintain momentum, to push the maul across the line and score some points. My particular concern is that not enough has been done to promote the forestry solution to the general public. This is important because public buy-in results in politicians having the confidence or social licence to spend considerable sums of taxpayer’s money on encouraging transformation. Also, we doubt the transformation is bold enough to retain the public’s interest.

We all need to engage and grasp the vision of a bigger and better wood sector. It is a future that is less reliant on oil and animal products and more on plants and longterm sustainable forests. My aspiration is to understand and encourage the important role of wood in our future and to escape the awful consequences that continuing to heat the planet will bring to us, and more importantly, our children.


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