With the deadline for the Northland Forestry Awards nominations approaching, the Northland Wood Council is encouraging industry players to submit nominations to continue the success of the awards in the region.

Andrew Widdowson, chairman of the Northland Wood Council, says the creation of the industry awards in the region three years ago had helped foster a stronger collaboration of industry players, while the VIP guests of the awards ceremony had developed a deeper understanding of, and an appreciation for the industry.

The Northland Forestry Awards are ready for this year's winners.
The Northland Forestry Awards are ready for this year's winners.

Mr Widdowson said Northland, like many other regions, faced supply challenges.

"There are several things facing our industry and not just here in Northland ... the supply of forests is at a low and for a domestic log supply perspective, Northland mills are receiving adequate supply for now.

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"The solution may be resolved through the planting of Minister [Shane] Jones' one billion trees, as Northland is being considered in the plan."

"The issue is in the medium term due to a reduced harvest from the larger, corporate forests, coupled with the impact of early-age harvest [20 year] by some companies chasing the high export dollar over the last two years," he said.

He said a shortfall of labour was also a cause for concern.

"The shortfall of labour is a feature of higher harvest tonnages nationally ... the high-risk nature of our industry ... but again the solution may be resolved through the planting of Minister [Shane] Jones' one billion trees, as Northland is being considered in the plan."

He said the region needed an availability of "suitable, motivated young people to replace an ageing workforce".

"There is also the ageing road infrastructure, including bridges, not fit for purpose to carry the region's log harvest," he said.

Boost to industry

The Northland Forestry Awards celebrate best practice in Northland's industry and it was organised by the Northland Wood Council.

The awards were launched three years ago to celebrate and acknowledge Northland's forestry industry and to recognise the region's skilled workforce.

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Nominations for the awards opened in March and will close on May 1. Judging will take place in May and June, and the final awards dinner hosted on July 6.

The awards encouraged the region's players, Mr Widdowson said.

"The winners and even nominees get that sense of pride and acknowledgment, the awards night is very special."

Last year's industry star was Shayne Maxwell, health and safety manager and company trainer of Kohurau Contracting.

He was named the Northland Skilled Forestry Professional of the Year for his work with health and safety systems with his company.

He was nominated for three categories — for health and safety, felling and harvesting, and won the supreme award, the Harvesting Excellence Award, and was joint winner of the Outstanding Health and Safety Management award.

His focus was on falling and breaking out and he pioneered the use of video and photographs for the company, recording faller behaviour and techniques and using them to teach crews.

Mr Widdowson said he was expecting to receive as many "if not more than" the close to 40 nominations received for last year's awards across the full range of categories.

Categories this year included the Skilled Professional of the Year and Industry Excellence Award. It also included the Forestry Family of the Year, Contractor of the Year Award, Outstanding Health & Safety Management Award and Outstanding Environmental Management Award, as well as many others.

The awards were created to boost the attraction of skilled employees to the region as valued forest industry players.

The awards also aim to boost industry standards of the skill base of the forestry workforce and encourage the upskilling of staff, while providing the means to unite industry players, and create an opportunity for the Northland's forest industry to celebrate its skilled professionals.

The Northland Forestry Health and Safety Group has encouraged other businesses within the industry to become involved in the event.

"It is important that we all share the vision to recognise skilled professionals, applaud them and create a desire to continue to lift the profile of forestry in Northland."

According to the Northland Forestry Health and Safety Group, the award's attendance grew by 200 per cent last year, so the group is expecting a large turnout this year.

Check out the full list of categories
at northlandwoodcouncil.co.nz.