Future Foresters are the future of forestry
A NUMBER OF KEEN YOUNG FORESTERS HAVE SET UP A GROUP aiming at attracting new blood into the industry and it’s already making a difference.
They call themselves the Future Foresters and at the 2018 DANA Forestry Conference in Taupo last month, one of its foundation members spoke about its aims and ambitions.
Sheridan Ashford, who is Export Operations Manager for Summit Forestry, says the idea for Future Foresters was sparked a year ago and it became established as a special interest group within the New Zealand Institute of Forestry thanks to funding from the Forest Growers Levy Trust.
“It’s so frustrating that we have a skills and labour shortage when there are incredible opportunities out there for young people in our industry,” Sheridan told the conference.
“So we created Future Foresters with three main goals; to establish a community of young foresters and make it a place where foresters can engage with the industry and feel part of the collective group; increase the number of young people who choose forestry as an industry career; and build engagement and awareness of forestry as a diverse and rewarding profession within schools and tertiary providers.
“We want to connect with young professionals either studying or working in forestry and we want to reach further and grab prospective talent and bring them into our industry.”
Future Foresters was formally launched at the recent NZIF conference in Nelson and the group has built a website (www. futureforesters.com), created a Facebook page and Instagram presence as part of a social media campaign to target young people with information about the opportunities in the industry.
The website went live in June and is attracting a growing number of people who want to know more about forestry as a career, while the Facebook page and Instagram are still relatively new.
The next stage of the campaign has been to create a series of short videos starring young foresters who talk about their positive experiences in forestry, inviting viewers to try it themselves as part of a Get In Touch campaign.
The first video, featuring Alfred Duval of Port Blakely Forests in Tauranga, has already been seen by 70,000 people via Facebook and Instagram.
Interestingly, Sheridan says the people who are viewing the Future Foresters sites mostly come from the big cities, such as Auckland and Christchurch and, importantly, 65% of people who viewed the Alfred Duval video are under the age of 25, which shows there is interest in non-traditional forestry areas.
Future Foresters is looking to grow its membership and presence around the country and, in addition to attracting more people into the industry it aims to help with professional development mentoring of young foresters.
A group of young professionals in the industry has formed the Future Foresters.