Southern Wood Industry Launches Southern Wood Council
The southern wood industry has formed the Southern Wood Council (SWC) to develop strategies to enhance the economic
opportunities for the entire industry.
SWC Chairman Matt Hitchings said local forestry companies, wood manufacturing and processing companies, port companies
and councils decided the industry would be best served by a body that represented all sector interests.
“It is recognized that nationally, the industry lacks cohesion so the southerners decided to lead the way by forming the
council to collectively represent the interests of the entire sector.
“The council has already made some significant progress in fostering training strategies by piloting an industry based
on-the-job training scheme.
Council members are committing $750,000 to the project over the next five years.
“This training initiative can be a stepping stone to diploma and degree courses – giving participants a real head start
to an exciting career.
“Our wood products are being exported throughout the world. To keep our competitive edge our goal is to develop an
enduring workforce with the skills and the passion to enhance our reputation in the global market place and the training
programme is the first step to achieving that,” Mr Hitchings said.
The Council, which formally operated under the less formal umbrella of the Otago Southland Wood Products Group, has led
the industry in a number of other areas as well.
“We formulated consistent alcohol and drug free workplace policies for the region, have led the way in electricity and
energy saving initiatives and co-ordinate some National forestry initiatives.
The Council is committed to fostering public support and understanding of the industry and has held a number of Forestry
Open Days to allow the public to see the industry first hand.
“We have also invested in some base line data on wood flows so that the industry can make some strategic decisions about
Mr Hitchings said the Council has also commissioned an Economic Impact Assessment of the Southern wood industry.
“The council needs to know what shape the industry is in and what opportunities are out there and what are the
impediments to growth. We will be releasing the findings of the assessment early next year. “
“The southern wood industry believes the new council will help develop and foster economic opportunities. It will also
act as the industry voice on issues that are seen as impediments to economic growth. “
“The wood industry plays a big part in the southern economy and the Southern Wood Council will provide us with the
strategic direction to make the most of the future opportunities.” Mr Hitchings said.
- The Southern Wood council members include all major forestry companies, saw mills and wood processors and local body
council representatives and port authorities.
- The industry employs 2443 people in the southern region (Southland, Otago, and South Canterbury)
- There is an estimated 242,341 ha of planted production forests in the southern region.