Forestry for Life is an exciting new initiative from the Eastland Wood Council, aimed at both the industry and the wider community. Each month in The Gisborne Herald, Forestry for Life will focus on a relevant topic, expanding and explaining it to create a better understanding of the industry for all.
The Eastland Wood Council are leading the nation with their Forestry for Life campaign.
It’s an industry that drives the region, providing much-needed employment and a flow-on effect that benefits many homes in Tairawhiti.
The council is a collaboration between the major plantation forestry owners, wood processing and distribution interests of the wider Gisborne district. It has grown out of a group that was formed in 2001 and an organisation-wide review in 2006 saw it morph into the current format. In recent years though, the council has branched out and now takes a far more proactive role in the industry as a whole.
Currently around one in every four households in the district has someone whose job is dependent, with around 8% of the local work force, in the forestry industry . . . and the number is growing.
It is also an industry that offers much as a career path, with everything from those wanting to be out in the field, to driving trucks, organising logistics, management and more.
EWC chief executive Prue Younger says the industry is one that brings much to the wider East Coast table and constantly strives to make the region a better place for all.
“We are driving marketing and education to reduce the issues and challenges, whether they be real or perceived, engaging stakeholders to support our industry and proactively future-proof forestry as a whole,” she said.
New initiatives focussing on increased safety for those in forestry along with drug and alcohol education continue to be developed.
Eastland Wood Council meets with the other four regional wood council organisations to share information and learn from each other. Eastland is one of the few in New Zealand with its own chief executive, management and membership structure.
Younger says it is an exciting time for the industry, and particularly with Eastland’s focus on new initiatives and wider education, highlighting the far-ranging benefit of forestry to the region.
Forestry Industry Safety Council
is the first true tri-partite industry-lead body in New Zealand with the mandate to work across the full plantation forestry sector, representing one voice in health and safety.
Ministry for Primary Industries
helps to maximise export opportunities for New Zealand’s primary industries, improve sector productivity, ensure food produced is safe, increase sustainable resource use and protect New Zealand from biological risk.
Log Transport Safety Council
is a collaboration of truck operators, transport researchers, trailer manufacturers, forest owners, legislators and enforcement agencies.
Forestry Industry Contractors Association
was formed to give a common voice on relevant issues within the industry, and to foster development and improvement in the New Zealand forestry contracting industry.
Eastland Port is a key part of the local forestry industry. Log export volumes have continued to climb – in 2005 350,000 tonnes headed out over the local wharves, that mushroomed to a record 2.302 million tonnes in 2016 and the expectation is that it will hit 3.4 million by 2020.
February was the port’s busiest-ever month with a total cargo of 264,000 tonnes exported.
And there has been extra kudos for the port, who are recognised as New Zealand’s most efficient logging port thanks to high vessel-loading rates.
Every single log is barcoded, and scanned in and out. An individual log stays an average of just eight days on the port.
Port management are constantly looking at ways to minimise its environmental footprint while improving systems and processes to move logs as efficiently as possible.
Sine 2010, Eastland Group – who own the port – has spent around $75 million on capital enhancements, with plans to invest significantly over the next five years to accommodate customer projections for the forestry harvest. Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd says the aim is to provide “excellent infrastructure to support the forestry sector”.
The port’s debarking operation, a joint venture with Hikurangi Forest Farms, generated additional value for logs being exported from Gisborne.
Of the 133 ships to dock at Eastland Port over the 2016 financial year, 113 were logging, with 98.4% of total exports being raw logs.
Eastland Wood Council’s introduction of three focus groups highlights the ethos behind the organisation. The groups – the Drug and Alcohol Group, the Health and Safety group and the Environmental Group – meet regularly and are constantly looking at ways to improve the industry.
DRUG & ALCOHOL TESTING PROGRAMME
The Drug and Alcohol Testing Programme (run by Integrated Safety Solutions) is aligned with standards from both sides of the Tasman. The legislation is driven by health and safety, with the goal of a safer place for all. It’s been a successful drive, with a reduction in accidents and incidents across the region and a drop in random testing to an all-time low.
HEALTH & SAFETY GROUP
The Health and Safety Group is also proving its worth. Made up of interested parties, the group look at trends and introduce initiatives to reduce problem areas.
The Environmental Group is also supported by a wide group of forestry companies, who are joined by representatives from Gisborne District Council and the Ministry of Primary Industries.
Again it is a very collective push, as they look at new ideas to counter any negative impacts on the environment, including the likes of reducing sediment, debris flow and funding support into research for the Regional Freshwater Plan.
The group works closely with scientists for a holistic view of the environment around the forestry industry.
Much attention is also given to educating people about forestry and the operations that surround it. At the heart of all solutions for EWC is the industry standard Approved Code of Practice for Forestry which aims to provide practical guidance to employers, contractors, employees, and all others engaged in work associated with forestry, on how they can meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and its associated Regulations.
About Eastland Forestry Council
The Eastland Wood Council provides a collective voice for the forestry industry in the Eastland region which encompasses the Gisborne and Wairoa District Council areas and stretches from the Mohaka River in the South to East Cape in the North.