South Waikato District Council hosts forestry symposium

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 15, 2019

South Waikato District Council hosted close to 80 industry stakeholders from across the Central North Island (CNI) forestry sector last week.

“The overarching goal of the symposium was for the CNI leaders to share current industry and labour market issues and opportunities and explore implementable regional and local solutions”, said Paul Bowden, council‘s economic development manager. “And for council to listen.”

Mayor Jenny Shattock is eager to galvanise stakeholders to future-proof the sector so that all businesses can reach their full potential.

“With 20% of local jobs, 19% of GDP, and 39% of export earnings in the district coming from the forestry sector, what happens in the forestry sector matters. It is in the DNA of our people and communities, our shared past, and integral to our exciting future.”

Representatives at the symposium covered a broad spectrum across the industry, including government agencies, pulp processing, logistics and distribution, harvesting, training providers, and forest management.

The symposium focused on key areas, including current barriers to employment, the strengths and challenges experienced currently, the vision for the sector in 20 years‘ time, and the steps needed to reach these goals.

Key themes included the forestry sector being considered an attractive industry with rewarding career prospects, collaborating so the sector speaks with ‘one voice‘, education and training pathways, continued investment in innovation, and environmental sustainability.

Ruth Fairhall, director afforestation policy, Te Uru Rakau Forestry, delivered the keynote address on the Government‘s 1Bn Trees Programme.

Hancock Forest Management NZ Ltd president Bill McCallum said the attendees represented a broad range of stakeholder interests.

The council has committed to hosting follow-up symposiums throughout the year with the sector to ensure the forestry sector in Tokoroa and the wider South Waikato continues to grow.