Forestry leaders since the 20th century
The New Zealand Forest Owners Association has a proud history of guiding and advocating for its members from the top of the north to the bottom of the south.
Established 100 years ago at the very birth of New Zealand’s plantation forest industry, NZFOA is one of the longer serving primary industry entities, boasting a membership of 220 plantation forest owners.
Chief executive, David Rhodes comments that all the major corporate forest owners, bar none, are members, including the likes of Summit Forests, Kaingaroa Timberlands, Matariki Forests, Ernslaw One, and Hancock Forest Management.
The Kaingaroa Estate, consisting of some 200,000 hectares, is owned by the New Zealand Super Fund. “We even have the Crown Forestry because they still have a substantial holding around the country,” says David.
“We also have some regional councils and of course some of the smaller forest owners too. In total, we would represent 75% of the plantation forestry in New Zealand and about 80% of the production.”
David paints the picture that the national plantations forestry estate is some 1.7 million hectares around the country and about 1.2 million hectares of that is in the hands of FOA membership.
“Some of our top forest owners have a couple of hundred thousand hectares each. They’re big forests and very effi ciently run, because when you get that sort of scale you can be.”
Based in Wellington, to be accessible to the beehive, the ministries and ministers provide industry representation to the Government, NZFOA’s central location is also handy for board meetings and for forest owner representatives to attend specialist committee meetings run in collaboration with the Farm Forestry Association.
“We have a range of specialist committees which are focused on the key issues affecting the industry and the members get benefi t from some of their
people being involved with their contemporaries around the country as well—so networking is another bonus.”
David says, NZFOA works to a view that New Zealand needs to have a sustainable, responsible plantation forestry and that means there needs to be an on-going review of practices.
“For example, we have an environmental code of practice which has undergone numerous revisions over the years because we are in a world of continual improvement. It’s really intended as a toolkit for forest owners, recognising that the industry needs to be at the forefront and New Zealand needs to be an example of the best plantation forestry in the world.”
David cites the example of the Forest Accord signed off some 30 years ago with some of the key environmental non-government groups (ENGO’s) such as the World Wildlife Fund, Eco and Forest and Bird.
At its heart is addressing how plantation forestry does not replace indigenous forestry, while also recognising there is a place for plantation forestry in a world that demands an increasing supply of wood.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in that Accord around the world, because elsewhere there is this acrimonious debate between the environmental movement and plantation forestry.
“But here we have a much better relationship and I think a lot of that comes down to the Accord we signed off 30 years ago. Since then we have concluded other agreements with the ENGO’s.”
While NZFOA provides a guiding hand to its members on a large range of issues impacting the industry, typically its members will also be certified members of independent certification bodies such as Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
(PEFC) Both international green certification labels, membership requires adherence to a broad range of principles and practices, including environmental, social, cultural and compliance with the law. Members of the FSC and PEFC are independently audited on an annual basis to ensure they are meeting their requirements.
“We’ve also established an independent forest safety council that has membership from Work Safe, the unions, the forest contractors and the forestry owners. They are now running their own programme of work which is all about minimising or eliminating harm and changing the health and safety culture of forestry.”
Supported by the NZFOA, the plantation forest industry is thriving in a world of continual demand and growth, evolving and adapting to its environmental and safety requirements.
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