You are here: Home» Membership» President's Comment

President's Comment, February 2024

Neil Cullen, from New Zealand Tree Grower

A new year and some subdued prospects for the forest sector. At the briefing ‘Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries’ last month, Director General Ray Smith predicted forest exports would decrease by nine per cent to $5.8 billion for the June 2024 year. Recovery for the following year is expected but no one is predicting the China log market to reach previous heights. Farm foresters are accepting the new reality and getting on with harvesting, with strong demand in the domestic market for pruned wood.

Thanks largely to the work of Howard Moore, the NZFFA has a contract with the Ministry for Primary Industries to organise and host 20 workshops on alternative species before the end of June this year.With our various Action Groups which provide much of the impetus and expertise for research which takes place nationally into alternatives to radiata pine, the NZFFA is well placed to provide the venues for these workshops. Branch members need to encourage land owners in their area to attend and see what the other species are that thrive in their region.Te Uru Rakau – NZ Forest Service regional advisors will provide expertise and answers to questions that will no doubt arise regarding prospects and markets for different species.

Although the new government may not be continuing with the Industry Transformation Plan which aimed to have 20 per cent of alternative species being planted by 2030, the reasoning behind that aim remains valid. Relying on one species, radiata pine, exposes the sector to significant climate change and market risk. Diversifying our forest species opens up more opportunities for growth and helps ensure a more resilient industry and visually desirable landscape.

The Executive intends to hire a Chief Operating Officer this month, initially on a short-term contract but if successful this will evolve into a longer-term position.This idea has been considered for some time with the lack of continuing funding having been the stumbling block. Branches and the Neil Barr Farm Forestry Foundation have provided funds for that initial contract and a large focus in the first six months will be on securing the income sources to make the position a permanent option.

Why do we need such a person? There are several reasons. Currently we rely on a team of mainly retired volunteers to write submissions, run projects and represent the NZFFA at a variety of sector meetings.This is not really a sustainable model. Having a Chief Operating Officer would make the position of President more of a governance role and therefore hopefully more attractive for prospective members to take up.

As a partner with NZ Forest Owners Association in representing forest owners on the Forest Growers’ Levy Board and its committees we need someone to fulfil our role and properly represent us.With there being a vote later in 2024 to affirm or otherwise the continuance of the levy, the timing is important.

The NZFFA will be manning stands at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu from 14 to 16 February and at Central Districts Field Days at Feilding a month later. Call in to support the crew if attending either event. At Waimumu we will be sharing a site with Log Marketing.


Farm Forestry - Headlines

Article archive »