FOR­EST GROW­ERS RE­SEARCH CON­FER­ENCE

New Zealand Logger - - Contents -

To­day’s re­search is help­ing to shape the forestry in­dus­try of to­mor­row and this year’s FGR con­fer­ence in Tau­ranga show­cased some very in­ter­est­ing stud­ies.

A PLEA HAS GONE OUT FOR THE THOU­SANDS OF SMALL plan­ta­tion for­est grow­ers around New Zealand to sup­port the levy that raises funds to help de­liver much-needed re­search, sup­port and pro­mo­tion for the in­dus­try.

The levy, which cur­rently stands at 27 cents per tonne of wood at har­vest, was in­tro­duced in 2014 by a large ma­jor­ity and needs to go back to the grow­ers next year to en­able it to con­tinue.

Large cor­po­rate for­est own­ers and ac­tive mem­bers of the Farm Forestry As­so­ci­a­tion have keenly sup­ported the levy since it was in­tro­duced, but the trust that over­sees how the money is raised and spent says it is im­por­tant to main­tain and build that sup­port.

Ge­off Thomp­son, Chair­per­son of the For­est Grow­ers Levy Trust, says around 84% of grow­ers who voted in the first bal­lot for the in­tro­duc­tion of the levy sup­ported it. But the num­bers who voted was not large, with many grow­ers of small forests not both­er­ing to cast their vote. An es­ti­mated 16,000 small plan­ta­tions are thought to be grow­ing in New Zealand, many of them on farms and com­pris­ing less than 20 hectares. But the ac­tual num­ber is not known and many were prob­a­bly un­aware of the levy when it was in­tro­duced.

Since then, the Farm Forestry As­so­ci­a­tion has been ac­tively seek­ing out peo­ple who are grow­ing plan­ta­tion trees on their prop­er­ties and it now says it has iden­ti­fied more than 14,000.

The next vote is sched­uled to take place in April 2019 and the Trust has al­ready be­gun a cam­paign to pro­mote the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing the levy and en­cour­ag­ing tree grow­ers to get be­hind it.

A se­ries of work­shops is be­ing held around the coun­try over the next few weeks and a web­site has been set up to ex­plain how the levy is col­lected and what the Trust spends the money on (www.fglt.org.nz).

Re­search takes the largest share ex­pen­di­ture and Mr Thomp­son told the 2018 For­est Grow­ers Re­search con­fer­ence in Tau­ranga last month that around half of the $42.6 mil­lion raised since the levy be­gan goes to a va­ri­ety of science projects, rang­ing from pro­grammes to grow bet­ter trees, to projects that sup­port im­proved en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes.

Biose­cu­rity takes the next largest chunk of cash, as foresters work to help pre­vent the in­cur­sion of fu­ture dis­eases and man­age those that al­ready in­fect our forests, such as Red Nee­dle Cast.

The con­fer­ence was also told that with­out sup­port from the levy, the For­est In­dus­try Safety Coun­cil (FISC) would not have been es­tab­lished to help im­prove safe work prac­tices – around 9.6% of the bud­get goes to health, safety and train­ing.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant spend is on pro­mo­tions, which are seen as im­por­tant in tak­ing a pos­i­tive view of forestry to the pub­lic and other tar­get au­di­ences. This in­cludes pro­duc­tion and broad­cast­ing of the For­est Call se­ries of pro­grammes on FACE TV.

“What­ever we spend has to ben­e­fit all forests – small and large,” says Mr Thomp­son, adding that it is vi­tally im­por­tant to get sup­port from a wide ma­jor­ity of tree grow­ers for the levy to con­tinue.

Among ar­eas tar­geted for in­creased ex­pen­di­ture, pro­vided the levy con­tin­ues, is train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion, which is seen as vi­tal for at­tract­ing new blood into the in­dus­try, as well as im­prov­ing safety.

David Rhodes, CEO of the Levy Trust, told the con­fer­ence that re­search has shown a “broad groundswell” of sup­port for the levy to con­tinue, but warned the in­dus­try not to be com­pla­cent and says it needs to earn that sup­port.

He out­lined changes and im­prove­ments be­ing con­sid­ered that will en­sure the levy ben­e­fits as many for­est grow­ers as pos­si­ble in the fu­ture, in­clud­ing es­tab­lish­ing a body within the trust to bet­ter look af­ter the needs of medium-sized for­est own­ers, as well as those at ei­ther end of the scale.

NZL

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