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Forestry summit to focus on financial performance

Forestry summit to focus on reviving industry’s financial performance

“Improving the competitiveness of forestry’s supply chain is no longer an option – it’s absolutely essential” says Jon Dey, director of Resin Forest Engineering Research – a new company set up to focus on practical forest engineering projects in New Zealand. His company, in partnership with Innovatek Limited, has organised a strategic summit in association with STIHL, to tackle the issues head-on with industry leaders.

“The solutions to our supply chain issues must include contractors, forestry company managers, researchers and key suppliers to this industry”, added co-organiser Bruce Easton when describing the gravity of the challenges ahead. Easton has worked hard to bring together a group of international and local experts to address key issues for both contractors and forest companies – many of which are strategic industry subjects.

One of key players will be Jan Fryk, Managing Director of Skogforsk, Sweden’s largest forest harvest research group. In Sweden they are committed to reducing supply chain costs by 5% per annum – just to stay competitive. Fryk’s group is just one of several global leaders in the forestry sector bringing their expertise to Rotorua in July. Sharing the stage with Mr Fryk will be John Mann representing the FERIC divisions of Canada’s largest forest sector research group – FPInnovations. Mann said that changing profitability in Canada’s forestry businesses has led them to new ways break old paradigms – to give their industry a viable future. He sees a lot of parallels with the New Zealand situation.

Adding to the list of key international speakers will be Professor Loren Kellogg from Oregon State University who is working with the CRC for Forestry in Melbourne. Kellogg will be providing some insight into the success of that programme in Australia. Rounding out the international guest line-up will be Dr Michal Brink of Forestry Solutions, who is well known and respected in the South African forestry industry. Both Australia and South Africa are facing many of the same challenges as New Zealand forestry.

Jon Dey summed up the opportunity saying “people coming to the Summit will learn from these speakers from key forestry countries – in effect the ‘international brains trust’ will be right here in NZ to help us focus on how we can improve the supply chain.”

The conference is rapidly gaining traction with many people across the industry. “Facing increasing challenges is not something contractors can do alone so they have to be part of finding new ways of becoming more internationally competitive,” says Jacob Kajavala, president of Forest Industry Contractors Association. He added “This summit will provide everyone with a chance to move the industry forward with a common vision.”

A number of leading industry suppliers have recognised the importance of such an event. Matt Ludbrook of Asset Forestry congratulates Bruce on his vision, “We feel that the industry really needs this kind of leadership to bring the challenges together”.
Everyone with a future in this industry needs to be there and also to be on the same wavelength – focusing on what can make us more competitive.”

Gordon Thomson from event managers, Innovatek Ltd, said “It has been really rewarding to see such a strong show of support from the suppliers. Clearly organisations like Future Forests Research, Titan Plant Services, UDC Finance, Port of Tauranga, Asset Forestry Logistics, EECA and Power Parts NZ Ltd see their future strongly tied to the fortunes of the forestry sector. They have been very supportive and quick to respond to our news of this key summit.”

In planning the summit Easton has made the case that in both Sweden and Canada their forestry sectors have never let go of the link between industry and R&D. Summit speakers will profile the case to establish R&D investment in the harvesting supply chain as a key input to economic growth and profitability. The Summit will strive to educate participants on current practises in the supply chain, promote opportunities and quantify performance gaps. Speakers will present examples of well executed outcomes in other leading forest products countries. They will demonstrate that a blend of applied and pure research is fundamental to sustained productivity growth.

This event will engage New Zealand’s key forestry enterprises, especially managers & contractors to strongly consider adopting an industry coalition for applied & pure research coupled to technology transfer as a basis for real productivity growth. It will require a strategy of investment in forest engineering capability across the supply chain. A key part of the strategy will be to engage with other key global players to create an international collaborative process and knowledge sources including the CRC for Forestry in Australia; FERIC in Canada and SKOGFORSK in Sweden.

Underpinning some of the inherent industry strengths will also be included in some key addresses during the pan-industry meeting. Transport regulations reform will mean higher payloads – a critical way forward to reducing part of the forest products shipping costs. Many people in forestry understand the potential for forestry to capitalise on both future wood supply coming on-stream in the next 5-7 years combined with the greening of international markets through awareness of climate change effects. These positive factors underpin the opportunities for market growth in forestry if the supply chain can be improved in the medium term.

The event has been designed with a new element as well – to show the forestry people in their best light. A charity auction will be run in association with STIHL on the evening of 22nd July preceding the summit dinner and will demonstrate how our industry can look beyond itself to support a good cause as well. The organisers would like to thank STIHL for their generous support and being instrumental in making this part of the summit happen.


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