In March 2019 the South Waikato District Council played host to nearly 80 stakeholders from across the Central North Island forestry industry at the South Waikato Forestry Symposium.
The main aim of the symposium was to explore growth opportunities for the region afforded by the government’s massive One Billion Trees programme.
The potential is impressive.
Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand) indicates that forestry plantings will double over each of the next three years – with continued growth beyond 2021 being driven by carbon prices and targets for climate change.
Forestry has always been a big part of South Waikato life – and it’s set to get bigger.
In 2018, over 1200 people in the region were directly employed by the forestry sector. Beyond this, sectors like transport and logistics, manufacturing and maintenance employ a healthy number of people as a result of forestry activity.
Te Uru Rakau estimates that to cope with the additional plantings required by the One Billion Trees programme, the planting workforce will need to double. This will flow across the value chain, from seedling to end product.
Commitment to training for future growth
The South Waikato forestry sector and their stakeholders have identified the need to prioritise capacity and capability building for a future workforce across all aspects of forestry.
There are a number of training programmes available at a national level that the industry will be exploring. These will be supplemented by initiatives developed within the region, such as local forestry training and building industry-secondary school partnerships.
The symposium also identified a number of further action points to maintain momentum.
These include ongoing symposiums and workshops, establishing a streamlined approach to access partnership funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries, marketing strategies for the sector and joint industry and Council initiatives.