In the last 5 days , I have visited many forestry sites , mostly around the Parakai/South Head region. Today I spent the best part of 2 hours in a helicopter doing forestry inspections for our larger clients. There is a devastating amount of windthrow and snapoff in the forests and woodlots of our region. We have not been able to access the West coast areas of Muriwai/Piha and parts of the Waitakere's yet , but we are expecting to see similar damage in these areas as well. I have also had reports of wind damage further north. I had a private west coast weather man in South Head tell me he recorded winds of 196km/h from the south west when the cyclone changed direction Windthrown trees are the most dangerous types of trees when trying to deal with logging them , or cleaning them up. This should be left to professional, experienced, qualified contractors if you are considering cleaning up these damaged trees. The stems can become "loaded" with tension, and the smallest amount of movement can cause violent reactions, snap offs, and movement of root wads. We only let cutters who have been trained in "falling wind thrown trees" , and certified work in this environment. Worksafe must be notified of any tree falling in any commercial wind thrown woodlots or forests. It is an offence not to notify. I advise any and all of you that have wind damaged forests to seek the advice of a suitably qualified forester, that is preferably a member of the NZIF , or registered with The Ministry of Forestry's new registration scheme. If you need Woodbank to visit your property to give advice we are happy to do so. Please be safe out there , I have seen some horrifying sights.
Article published in the Business North Newspaper August 2022
For Darrin Collett, the forestry industry is as much about the people as it is the trees and the earth they grow in. “The people in our industry are just wonderful,” says Darrin. “You get a real cross section from the logging crews, the trucking crews, the sawmillers and exporters. You might lean on the fence post having a yarn with a cocky without your shiny shoes, but then put those shiny shoes on to meet an exporter. It’s about being able to communicate with all these different types of people, understanding their needs and risks and manage those for them.”
A career forester since 1991, Darrin was trained in the big corporate forestry world of Rayonier and Fletcher Challenge Forests, rising to the senior position of Auckland/Northland Regional Manager, overseeing the management and acquisition of private forestry in the region.
When Fletcher Challenge Forestry ceased to exist in 2004, Darrin saw an opportunity to fill the void left behind in the region, and established Woodbank Forestry, taking on a number of the contracts and customers left behind.
With Head Office in Kumeu and an office in Whangarei, Woodbank Forestry either owns or manages small forests or woodlots, mainly in northern Waikato, Auckland and Northland Regions. Ninety percent of Woodbank Forestry’s work is managing or purchasing mature forests, then harvesting the logs for supply, firstly to local sawmills with the balance sold into the export market.
“To manage or buy a forest and see it through to completion is an immense thrill and to get the last environmental sign off when it is all finished or replanted is a pretty cool accomplishment,” says Darrin.
“Then to drive past that forest ten years later and see trees growing into the second rotation is pretty inspiring.” Managing up to 1000 hectares at any one time depending on the market, Woodbank Forestry’s core client base embraces mum and dad investors, farmers, Māori Trusts and Councils.
“Working in the private sector, our harvesting operations are affected greatly by the market. When the market is booming and the price is high, we’re booming, but when the market slows right down like it is now, we slow down immensely. Small forest owners only get to harvest their trees once. As the forest manager, our goal is to get our clients the best return we can for their wood. We’re all about creating wealth and minimising the downside effects of low returns. We can tailor what we do to provide an option that best suits the client. Some people prefer not to have the risk of owning their own forest and Woodbank Forestry can buy the forest outright, and sometimes the land as well.”
Woodbank Forestry’s range of services has expanded over the years to include silviculture, and frequently provides forest appraisals, harvest planning, and due diligence consulting services.
“When it gets quiet here during the winter time, I have also done off-shore project consulting work, mainly in Papua New Guinea. Prior to Covid, we used to do up to ten trips a year to countries as far afield as Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, the Solomons and China. I’m a registered lead auditor for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), so I do independent FSC audits for companies wanting to get certified to international standards, which was interesting work.”
With sustainable forestry practices well in the spotlight, Darrin says his managers and contractor workforce take great pride in protecting native forests when the radiata blocks are being logged. “There are a lot of pine plantations around native forest areas, or native bush has grown up in waterways that needs to be protected. “Over our 18-year history we would have one of the best records in the Auckland region when it comes to environmental management of forestry sites. “Our contractor workforce is key to our dayto-day forestry activities, and the health and safety of those crews also plays a big role in our sustainable practices.”