New Zealand’s forestry contractors are expressing concern at lack of clarity following release of the Ministerial Enquiry into woody debris report, and say it’s unfair to be viewed as ‘turn-on, turn-off’ service providers. Many are at risk of losing their livelihoods.
Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) CEO Prue Younger says while FICA was part of the inquiry, there is not much certainty for contractors in the final report.
“Contractors want to be part of the forestry team and part of the solution, but we are still seen as a turn-on turn-off service provider,” she says.
“Suggesting we have lost the social licence to operate with the community does not acknowledge the huge loss of jobs and major impact that will have. We are part of the community and forestry is vital to keep these communities going.”
Ms Younger says the report lacks clarity for contractors and forestry workers in several of its recommendations. For example, it recommends ‘employing local people, such as hiring out-of-work forestry crews for clean-up activities and supporting the work of existing Jobs for Nature projects.’
“My question is, what does a career in forestry look like going forward? Are there even going to be jobs available?” she says.
“What do better practises look like? How much more will it cost to do this? The report talks about balancing economics and environmental aspects of this transition, but are the costs going to be passed onto the contractor as has happened in the past?”
“The responsibility lies with the landowner; we are very firm on that. If contractors work to a scope, then they must be rewarded aptly for carrying out that work,” she says.
“Furthermore, setting up a Woody Debris Taskforce will take more time to get action. It may be too late for many contractors on the coast,” she says.
“Changes to the practises do need to be assessed carefully and cannot be a knee jerk reaction without a whole lot more research and consideration to how practical and manageable they are. First and foremost, our workforce needs to get back to work,” challenges Robert Stubbs, FICA Chair.
“Every week we hear of more leaving the region or winding up and leaving the industry altogether. The last six months have not been at all sustainable.”
“Some businesses are on the brink, and clarity is needed now. We don’t have the luxury of time. We acknowledge this report is only the first step, but we’re on an urgent timeframe and this may be too late for some.”
“It’s important to recognise and reflect the entire forest industry supply chain and consider and include everyone in the solutions. We must work together.”
For more information contact Prue Younger, FICA CEO. EMAIL email@example.com | PHONE 021 276 5484