Planting seeds for a brighter forestry future at Fieldays
27 September 2022
In a Fieldays first, Scion will be among more than 40 organisations gathering under one roof to educate visitors about the New Zealand’s dynamic forestry sector.
Under the theme of ‘Wood – our low-carbon future’, the Fieldays Forestry Hub will be a dedicated space at this year’s Fieldays event, giving visitors the chance to explore the many facets of the forestry and wood processing sector and how the industry has a vital role in mitigating climate change.
At the hub visitors will discover engaging experiences on forestry growing, climate change, wood products, timber construction, biosecurity and biodiversity. There will also be two forestry simulators on site so visitors big and small can experience what it’s like to operate machinery in a forest.
Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder says the hub will showcase the vibrant future in forestry and the capacity for wood and fibre from trees to accelerate economic growth in regional communities.
“Forestry is a sophisticated industry with a science-based future. As a renewable resource, forests are key to New Zealand meeting our climate change objectives as we transition to a circular bioeconomy. It’s this environment that provides a rich mosaic of activity for the regions to thrive, through emerging bio-based manufacturing.
“Visitors to Scion’s stand in the Fieldays forestry hub will come away with a new appreciation for how forests add value to our economy, our environment and our social wellbeing.”
The hub was the brainchild of collaborative advisory group comprising of Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service, Forest Growers Levy Trust, Scion, NZ Forest Owners Association, Red Stag, NZ Farm Forestry Association and Future Foresters. Hub spokesperson Alex Wilson says that the multi-billion-dollar forestry sector is a major employer in New Zealand, employing over 35,000 people in both year-round and seasonal jobs.
“We’re entering an exciting phase in forestry and wood processing, which is creating huge employment opportunities. People of all ages and abilities can find great careers in this sector - from planting and managing native forests and looking after the forest environment, to managing people and resources and working with state-of-the-art technology.
“We’d also like to open people’s minds up to the possibilities of trees – anything that’s a fossil fuel today can be made from a tree in the future. We’ll have bioplastic vine clips, leather shoes tanned with pine bark tannin, biofuel insights and a showcase of how drone technology is a game changer,” Wilson says.
Farm Forestry Association president, Graham West, says FFA strongly supports the Fieldays Forestry Hub and has been heavily engaged in its design and development.
“We wish to reach landowners with the message that farm forestry is working well for our members and is an important option for future sustainable land use in New Zealand.”
Graham West says the farm forestry section of the hub will have practical experts and information available on multiple plantation species, with a focus on Redwoods, Eucalypts, Cypresses, Poplar and Willow, and Radiata pine.
“We also support and facilitate the ‘Grow-a-tree’ competition for children.”
Forest Owners Association president Grant Dodson also adds that forestry is an excellent land use opportunity for farmers.
“The hub is all about sharing information, so that forestry is better understood and those farmers that want to can be better informed before investing.
“We see integrated land use, with trees on farms, as a real opportunity to increase overall long-term returns for farming, while improving environmental outcomes, especially around climate change.”
New Zealand has approximately 1.7 million hectares of productive forests around the country and is currently the world’s largest exporter of softwood logs. Plans are also afoot, through Te Uru Rākau’s Industry Transformation Plan, to add more value to our forestry sector by processing wood materials in New Zealand, which in turn will create even more career and job opportunities.
Because of this, featuring a new hub centred around forestry and wood-processing at Fieldays in 2022 was a no-brainer for Peter Nation, the CEO of the National New Zealand Fieldays Society.
“This is the first time Fieldays has included something so specific to the forestry and wood-processing sectors, which is well-deserved as they continue to be such an important primary industry in our country,” Nation says.
“There’s a huge need for workers of all kinds in the sector – the breadth of skill sets that can be used is astounding.
“We’re so lucky to have these companies and organisations here to showcase themselves and show how an interest in forestry can quickly become a career.”
Children are encouraged to visit the Fieldays Forestry Hub, with there being a ‘Kids Grow a Great Tree Competition’ available to enter. Children who enter the competition will be given a young potted tree to take home and look after. Forestry experts will keep in contact with this next generation of tree growers and will offer advice on how to look after and nurture their trees.
The Fieldays Forestry Hub joins the Fieldays Innovation Hub, the Fieldays Opportunity Grows Here Careers Hub, and the Fieldays Hauora Taiwhenua Health & Wellbeing hub as key focus areas for visitors to explore during Fieldays.
Fieldays will be held over four days, starting 30 November, at Mystery Creek near Hamilton. Tickets are available at tickets.fieldays.co.nz/tickets