Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) CEO Prue Younger says FICA is keen to support the woody debris enquiry, providing valuable input from the practitioners who work in the forests every day. “Our forestry contractors are physically on the ground and have practical and valuable knowledge about what will be possible and most effective in managing woody debris,” she says.
“We are keen to see the industry work together and redeem our social licence to operate. Problem solving without the input of contractors will be detrimental to the outcome. In this industry, contractors are not always given the opportunity to provide input. It should be recognised that forestry contractors are contracted to do a job for which they must follow best practice guidelines, resource consents, and forest owner guidelines. These are monitored and audited by the forest owner or manager for which they are contracted to.”
“When reviewing the slash issue, FICA would like to see a balanced approach, taking into account harvesting knowledge and past learnings, a broad stakeholder group and but with consideration also given to this record-breaking cyclone.”
FICA members represents about 70% of the log cut in New Zealand and forestry is a significant employer in both the Tairawhiti and Hawkes Bay regions. In Tairawhiti alone it is estimated 1 in 4 people earn an income directly or indirectly from forestry. The service providers along the supply chain make it a huge industry employer.
“Our ultimate concern is for livelihoods. Most contractors are family-owned businesses who all employ staff and contribute to our local communities,” she says. “Right now, we have lots working to keep their crews going on jobs outside of their everyday forestry work. They’re being called in to assist with clearing roads and land sites using their heavy machinery.”
“There are many stories of contractors getting stuck in and helping out in their communities, whether that’s volunteering or seeking alternative revenue through short-term clean up jobs.”
We all want a sustainable industry, environmentally, financially and socially positive that continues to provide work to the regions and to be a key contributor to the economics of the country and to be future thinking with a transformational lens.