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President's Comment, August 2022

Graham West.
As Covid-19 rages on, all the interactions within the executive and with other associations, officials and politicians, have had to be by video conference or telephone. While everyone has got use to operating this way, it has its consequences and challenges. Those that need to change to a more formal process of requesting to speak in meetings and speaking clearly over a poor internet connection are learning.

It has also affected the willingness of members to attend field days and meetings. One branch meeting reported six people testing positive for covid after the gathering. Some branches have almost closed down because many people chose to simply not got out if there is a significant risk they will catch covid or the flu.

I am in the same situation and will not risk bringing covid back home to infect my family. Also, some of the colds going around are really debilitating. Hopefully this will change soon, and we need to consider remedial actions in the coming summer to support some branches which have lost momentum. In the central North Island we have agreed to collaborate across at least three adjacent branches.

The intention is run a regular roster of shared field days or events, perhaps having something every one or two months.  The more successful branches seem to have a continuity of events that keeps members interested. Hawkes Bay branch Tim Forde and his committee seem to have developed a successful formula and are going from strength to strength. I have asked Tim to write out his recipe for success for the national newsletter. Tim is keen to help branches and give advice.

My thanks to all who participated in the Special General Meeting via zoom. This meeting showed we can continue with important organisational matters and make decisions. A full report is made in this issue of Tree Grower.

Our collaboration within the Climate Forests Association seems to be paying dividends. Collectively we have a meeting with Ministers Nash and Shaw over the Permanent Carbon Forest issues, and we are working on solutions to find some middle ground to satisfy most parties.

The Climate Forests Association has also commissioned research on some of the missing science, particularly how very old stands of exotic species will behave.  Using measurement data we are getting results that confirm earlier reports. While radiata pine drops to low stocking of 100 to 200 stems a hectare by about 60 years, it continues in a steady state past 100 years. Amazingly, it continues to add volume per hectare and accumulates carbon. By 100 years it is holding about 2,000 tonnes per hectare of carbon dioxide equivalent, excluding the native understorey that has developed by then, potentially another 400 tonnes a hectare. If we want climate change to go away, we need to take a lot of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it somewhere. It is a simple equation.

Recently the executive has completed on your behalf a lengthy submission on the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity - Exposure Draft.  This will raise some key concerns for land and forest owners. It aims to include plantation forests and anyone who has a Significant Natural Area mapped on their property. I only found I had one when I happened to be viewing some on-line district council maps. There was no consultation or notification. This policy seeks to improve biodiversity as a public good which we support, but it seems the land owner is responsible to maintain it and may wear most of the costs. Great work on this submission is led by Egon Guttke.


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