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Afforestation Workshop

Every year PF Olsen hold a full day afforestation training/workshop for our staff and, depending on the nature of the training, invites contractors, clients and council staff to also attend these sessions. This year, given the prominence of the One Billion Trees program in the news and in our communities, we decided to create a two-day workshop for our forestry staff, looking at various aspects of afforestation.

According to the National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry, afforestation:

a)       Means planting and growing plantation forestry trees on land where there is no plantation forestry and where plantation forestry harvesting has not occurred within the last 5 years; but

b)      Does not include vegetation clearance from the land before planting.

Afforestation is slightly different to normal reforestation activities, in that because the sites are new ones, there are many as yet unknown factors that can influence the operation (e.g. location of archaeological sites, presence of rare/threatened species, significant natural areas or landscapes etc.). With afforestation projects, there is also the opportunity for clients to explore different species, and planting / regime scenarios, all of which will be influenced by client requirements, desires and budgets, Council rules, existing infrastructure, downstream / neighbouring land uses and infrastructure, markets etc. With reforestation operations most of these factors are already known providing a more limited scope for integrating forests into landscapes.

Given that most of the One Billion Trees program will consist of new plantings, we thought this would be a good opportunity to expose our staff to some new species, and the considerations around new plantings, to ensure that we are providing our clients with the best information regarding right species, right place, right purpose.

For the two-day workshop, experts in alternative species were asked to come and present on their species, covering markets, regimes, costs, risks and benefits in each talk. The sunny Hawke’s Bay was chosen as the location to host the workshop, because of the past and present work the Regional Council is putting into understanding different species, and where they can best be utilized. While PF Olsen staff made up the majority of the attendees, staff from Landcorp, Hawkes Bay Regional Council and Horizon’s Regional Council also attended.

Day One covered talks on Cypresses, Redwoods, Douglas-fir, Eucalypts, Poplars and Natives, to provide attendees with ability to discuss species other than radiata pine with clients. Many of the speakers stressed the lack of understanding of and knowledge / research gaps for their species, perpetuated by the New Zealand’s previous focus (to the point of exclusion) on radiata. The workshop then shifted focus to provide attendees with an understanding of the factors, constraints and considerations that they needed to understand to help provide clients with the most informed options for their land.

On the second day attendees were asked to incorporate all of their freshly gained knowledge into an afforestation exercise for local Landcorp property, Te Apiti Station. Working in small groups, attendees were given limited information regarding the property and what the client wanted to achieve from afforestation planting. Using that information, they had to determine what information pieces were missing that needed to be filled for them to fully understand the situation and before they could make recommendations to the client. The second part of the exercise involved the groups deciding what parts of Te Apiti they were going to plant up, using which species. The exercise ended with the groups sharing their plans for Te Apiti and then comparing them with the recently executed afforestation plan for the property. Feedback from attendees on this exercise showed that they had taken all of the workshop’s information on board, with many selecting previously unused species in their exercise.

The workshop wrapped up with a field trip to Waihapua Forest, located approx. 45 minutes north of Napier, and brought by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council after Cyclone Bola. Over the last 30 years Waihapua Forest has been planted in a range of species in an attempt to determine what species and regimes work best for eroding Hawke’s Bay country. The field trip was a great way to wrap up the workshop, by allowing attendees to see different species in action, and to discuss those species and their applications, both with other attendees and the species experts.

PF Olsen would like to thank the following people for their help in making this workshop possible:

  • Ben Douglas, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
  • Colin Stace, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
  • David Bergin, Tane’s Tree Trust
  • Jacqui Aimers, Tane’s Tree Trust
  • Les Dowling, PF Olsen
  • Mark Dean, Ernslaw One
  • Patrick Milne, Southern Cypresses Ltd
  • Paul Millen, Dryland Forests Initiative
  • Paul Silcock, Ernslaw One
  • Simon Rapley, Redwood Company