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Seeing The Wood And The Trees

From the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology
For immediate release


Rotorua forest management firm P F Olsen and Company Ltd has found keeping track of the trees is made easier by using innovative new computer software.

Olsen found that its “old, clunky”, separate DOS-based accounting, GIS (geographic information system), and forest records were outdated. They did not give a clear enough picture of what was happening with its clients’ forests.

“Each of the applications was getting past its use-by date,” says Olsen’s computing systems manager, Grant Alexander. “Its developers were no longer supporting it and Y2K was going to kill it or it just didn’t make sense in our business.

“We also needed to integrate those functions into a system we had control over.”

He says the company has developed cost and financial accounting systems that have been integrated with its forest records.

“We are using an off-the-shelf GIS package that reads descriptive data from the forest records and cost accounting.”

The program was developed by Integral Ltd, a Rotorua company, which used Magic software. The project was supported by Technology New Zealand, which invests in research into new products, processes or services.

Olsen uses a version of Magic for Windows NT that gives it the familiar Windows “look and feel”.

“The core concepts of the Forest Information and Planning System can be customised to the management of any land-based enterprise – whether farming or horticulture,” Mr Alexander says.

“We can look at any land area and what is growing on it, attribute costs to it and assess its likely profitability.”

This brings precision to forest management, enabling better budgeting and reporting to clients.

“We can now more easily calculate unit costs. Until now this had been missing,” he says.

“One of the things we were aiming for was to enable a user to enter the data, and access reports directly for themselves from a common database.”

Users connect to servers from anywhere in New Zealand. They enter data into the system direct, eliminating the need to punch from one format into another.

“It goes in once, whether from Dunedin or Kaitaia,” Mr Alexander says.

“A forest can be managed anywhere in the world.”

Work has been streamlined. Data entry has been distributed throughout the company. Double handling has been reduced and several manual systems have been replaced. By centralising the database information, a more complete picture of the business is available.

Mr Alexander says managers now have more timely information in standard format reports.

P F Olsen manages 40,000 hectares for clients, and employs 50 staff in nine offices throughout New Zealand.


Contact: · Grant Alexander, P F Olsen &Co, 430 Ngongotaha Rd, Rotorua. Ph: (07)357-4135. Fax: (07) 357-5185. Email: · Nigel Metge, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (Auckland Office), (09) 912-6730, or 021 454-095. Website:

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525,

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