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New forestry expertise joins FOA executive council

31 March 2024

The New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) are pleased to announce Matt Wakelin as its new President.

Matt was elected during FOA’s Annual General Meeting last week, replacing retiring President, Grant Dodson.

Portfolio manager for New Forests, Matt has extensive experience stemming from a lifelong career in forestry – managing forest estates, port services operations, log supply and residues sales for log processing facilities and offering his sector expertise in an executive and corporate capacity.

Matt says New Zealand’s plantation forests, and the forest owners that support them, will be critical for achieving a greener future. “Our plantation forests sequester more than half the country’s annual carbon dioxide emissions and are the only real tool we have available right now to counter rising emissions and meet the 2050 targets.”

The sector also holds the largest role in supporting New Zealand’s emerging bioeconomy, Matt says. “Wood chip, pellets and other forms of wood fibre are progressively replacing coal as an alternative, eco-friendly source of fuel. Carbon intensive materials such as steel and concrete are being subbed out for quality, carbon-locking timber too. The innovative use of wood residues such as pine pollen in the likes of pharmaceutical and skin care products is also changing the way we see and use wood and has real potential to grow the sector,” Matt says. “It’s an exciting time to be stepping in as FOA President and supporting the sector on that growth trajectory.”

Forest Owners Association chief executive Dr Elizabeth Heeg acknowledges the leadership and support of outgoing president, Grant Dodson, during his two-year term. “Grant’s keen observations, industry practicality and deep knowledge of matters outside forestry have become a valuable legacy for our industry as it meets the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Kate Rankin (Wenita Forest Products Ltd) and Darren Man (Earnslaw One) were also elected to the executive council, replacing Steve Chandler and Rowan Struthers respectively. Dean Witehira (Timberlands) will replace Tim Sandall as Vice President for the coming term.

“Steve and Rowan have been a real asset to the executive council. Their commitment to representing forest owner interests, particularly their contributions to the sector’s training, careers and labour space, will have a lasting impact,” Elizabeth says. “We are excited to welcome our new executive members and look forward to seeing their skills, knowledge and fresh perspectives in action.”

Source: New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) via Voxy