Organisers of next year's national Farm Forest Association conference in Rotorua say they plan to make it a major milestone in the development of the small-scale forestry sector.

The Small Forest Grower Conference and Expo, due to be held from May 16 to 20, will focus on technical and economic information, land owners and investors, service providers, new technology and policies, new ideas and fresh perspectives.

The organisers say the conference theme Fast Forward reflects that this is a watershed moment in forestry, given recent changes including:

• The Government's 1 billion-tree policy
• The National Policy Statement on water quality
• New policy on the Emissions Trading Scheme and the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry
• And the vote for the continuance of the Forest Grower Levy

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BOP Farm Forestry Association chairman Graham West says the recent government policy on afforestation and the environment, plus new attitudes toward land use, mean we are at the dawn of a new age of understanding how the land sustains us and the role of forestry in the new landscape.

"This meeting will answer: What role does small scale forestry have in our future wealth creation, what needs to change, and what opportunity does it offer you?" he says.

"Small and medium scale forestry (<1000ha) currently has 14,000 owners. This event aims to engage this group, understand their needs, and make plans to ensure they have a good experience with their forest investment.

Read more: Virtual reality experiments in Rotorua could replace forestry field work

"It will also aim to engage Māori and young people, plus the future forestry investors and potential new members of this community."

West says the 2019 programme is weighted towards the many topical issues of the day but also toward the harvesting and marketing end of the forestry value chain.

"This helps us all to recognise the importance of harvesting from both a cost and environmental aspect as well as realising the higher percentage of high value/high quality species under small – medium ownership."

The event will run over five days, with a two-day programme in conference, a field day after the formal sessions focusing on the issues discussed in conference, plus a post conference tour for those who want to see the extensive and diverse resources of the Central North Island forestry sector.

The conference will be held at the Distinction Hotel, Fenton Street, Rotorua. It will be formally opened by the Forestry Minister Shane Jones.

For more details phone 027 4410 353.