17 October 2012
Forest growers will decide the future direction and funding of their industry in a referendum being held in March next year.
“Forestry has a huge untapped potential. To achieve that potential we need a fairer and more cohesive industry where all growers are involved and playing their part,” say the Farm Forestry and Forest Owners Associations.
“Members of the two associations account for more than 80 per cent of the plantation forest harvest, but fewer than a quarter of the sector’s 10,000-plus growers. The aim is to bring all growers into the sector’s information streams and get them involved in decision making and funding.”
This will mean having a commodity levy on logs and other forest products in the year of harvest. By law, this requires the support of a dual majority in a referendum, with votes counted both by number of growers and by forest area. The levy rate has not been finalised but is expected to be around 40 cents a tonne.
Forest Owners vice president Paul Nicholls says work that benefits all growers has long been funded by the voluntary subscriptions and efforts of those growers who join an association.
“That voluntary work will continue. But the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead need the commitment of all growers, not just the enthusiasts.
“For example, pests and diseases do not respect property boundaries. So we need all growers involved in forest monitoring and funding biosecurity research and readiness.”
Farm Forestry president Ian Jackson says grower representatives made a commitment to increased science funding at a recent pan-industry workshop.
“It’s really quite exciting. There’s a recognition that in order to increase profitability we need a step-change in the way we do things. We need to produce higher yields of better quality timber and to harvest it more efficiently. That means making a bigger investment in well-targeted research.”
The Forest Owners and Farm Foresters are now setting up a Board to plan and conduct what will be known as the Forest Voice Referendum.
The referendum was originally going to be held before Christmas, but has been delayed until March 2013 because of the importance of the decisions made at the science and innovation workshop last week. Between 60 and 70 per cent of the funds generated by the levy will be used for science funding.
The Forest Voice website www.forestvoice.org.nz will explain the Plantation Forest Strategy and how to vote. It will be live by 1 November.
For more information, contact Paul Nicholls, Tel 027 595 8708
or Ian Jackson, Tel 03 689 5578