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Winner wants NZ to understand role of Forests

New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF)
Te Pūtahi Ngāherehere o Aotearoa Inc.

April 22, 2006

Award winner wants NZ to understand wider role of forests

This year’s Forester of the Year says New Zealanders need to better understand the wider benefits of forests other than simply as a wood source.

Peter Berg, who was awarded the top New Zealand Institute of Forestry award at the professional body’s annual conference in Wellington, says the average New Zealander does not think beyond the basic values of forests of providing wood and as a scenic backdrop.

Instead, Mr Berg, who is the current president of the NZ Forest Owners Association (NZFOA) as well as a member of the NZIF, says New Zealand needs to understand better how widely forestry impacts on our everyday lives.

“It’s time to think of the wider values of forests. They provide soil and water conservation, biodiversity, habitats for wildlife and are used extensively for a range of recreational uses such as walking, biking and hunting. There’s a lot more to forests than people realise,” he says.

After nearly 40 years in the forestry industry, Mr Berg strongly believes in the future of forestry, regardless of current depressed market conditions.

“I think the future for forestry is positive so long as those many values of wood are properly recognised and appreciated in society. We need to find better ways to communicate those other values so they are recognised.

Mr Berg says he was surprised but pleased about his Forester of the Year award.

“Forestry has been a big part of my life. As a young boy my father was a logging contractor and I started living and working in forestry when I was eight or nine years old.”

Even though it used to be much more dangerous and risky to be working in forestry, as his father did, he says he was never put off the industry. Mr Berg credits his father’s involvement and passion for forestry as the reason he became interested in it as a profession.

Mr Berg spent the early part of his career (from 1967 to 1987) with the former New Zealand Forest Service, the government department responsible for forestry. This included secondment as the Chief Forestry Officer of Western Samoa (under the NZ bilateral aid programme) from 1978 to 1981, and Conservator of Forests for the Westland Conservancy from 1982 to 1986.

He was also a key player in the transformation of the commercial elements of the Forest Service into the Forestry Corporation from 1987 to 1992.

Mr Berg’s current role as chairman and executive director of NZ Forestry Ltd and Pentarch Forest Products (NZ) Ltd sees him in charge of a combined turnover exceeding $50 million, marketing more than half a million tonnes of wood in a number of Asian countries and the United States.

As well as being the current president of the NZFOA, a position to which he was re-elected in 2005 and has held continuously since 1999, he is also the NZFOA’s representative to the Woodco Board which was formed in 2005, he was a Forest Industries Council board member and member of the NZIF Registration Board, a position he has held since 1998.

Mr Berg served as President of the NZIF for two successive terms, is the NZ section chair of the Commonwealth Forestry Association, a position he has held for eight years and is Deputy Chairman of Tane’s Tree Trust, an organisation that fosters the planting of New Zealand’s native timber species for commercial and other purposes.

He was also made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for services to forestry in the 2004 New Year’s Honours list.

According to NZIF president Jaquetta Bradshaw, few people in recent years have put as much time and effort in forestry outside the job that they are employed to do than Mr Berg has.

“It is easy to see with these attributes combined with his industry involvement and commitment that Peter has made a significant contribution to New Zealand forestry and the NZIF over the past decades - it is a real pleasure to name him forester of the year,” Ms Bradshaw said.


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