More than 300 southern foresters attended the recent 2019 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards in Dunedin, reflecting an emphasis on training and opportunities in the sector.
Southern Wood Council chairman Grant Dodson said the event saw an ''outstanding turnout'' at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium by local forestry companies, contractors and transport operators from around the lower South Island.
''The turnout by forestry workers, their families and supporters on the night reflects the momentum that's been building over the last year or so with training and safety in this region,'' Dodson said in a statement.
Alongside increased on-site training, two training courses in the region were now fully operational, he said.
Mike Hurring's Training School in Balclutha runs week-long block courses for new entrants, while Tokomairiro Training, an initiative between Tokomairiro High School and Johnson Forestry Services, runs 32-week courses for selected school students considering a forestry career.
''The message on the value of the awards evening has certainly found its mark, with many companies bringing through all of their staff and workers, from Invercargill through to Timaru,'' Dodson said.
Around 160 National Training Certificates achieved in forestry and wood processing were awarded to top local contractors and forestry and wood processing employees.
Eight harvesting apprentices involved in the Balclutha training school were also recognised at the awards, run in conjunction with industry training organisation, Competenz.
The nine major industry awards:
Training Excellence Awards
Apprentice of the Year: Paige Harland, of Harland Bros.
Forestry Trainee of the Year (harvesting): Hemi Pickett, of Ferris Logging, and Logan Bennett, Mike Hurring Logging.
Forestry Trainee of the Year (silviculture): Adam McLennan, Johnson Forestry Services.
Skilled Professionals Awards
Forestry Excellence Award (establishment, silviculture, fire, harvesting): Billy Tredinnick, Forestry Training Services.
Wood Processing Excellence Award: Jamie Carr, Pan Pac Forest Products (Otago).
Forest Products/Logistics/Transport/Port Award: Stephen Gray and Craig Unahi, both of NFA Holdings.
Industry Excellence Awards:
Forestry Environmental Management Excellence Award: Matt Winmill, Gillion Logging.
Training Company/Contractor of the Year: Johnson Forestry Services.
Forest Products Health & Safety Award: Dynes Transport.