Building the forestry and wood processing workforce

Representatives from across the forestry sector worked with MPI to develop an action plan to support a skilled, safe, and diverse workforce. Find out about the plan. 

Supporting current and future workforce needs

The Forestry and wood processing workforce action plan 2020–2024 aims to support the development of a skilled workforce. The action plan:

  • supports the current and future needs of the sector's workforce
  • brings new initiatives together to form a cohesive and comprehensive way forward
  • leverages areas of shared interest with the wider primary sector.

Four focus areas

The action plan has 4 focus areas for the forestry and wood processing sector.

  1. Knowledge: Making good workforce decisions based on robust information and data.
  2. Attraction: Inspiring and attracting a larger, more diverse workforce.
  3. Education and training: Ensuring people have the rights skills and knowledge to be successful.
  4. Employment: Having people thrive in workplaces with good practices and work conditions.

Forestry and wood processing workforce action plan 2020–2024 [PDF, 3.5 MB]

Related documents

Summary of the Forestry and wood processing workforce action plan 2020–2024 [PDF, 464 KB]

Food & fibre skills action plan 2019–2022 [PDF, 3.1 MB]

Summary of the Food & fibre skills action plan 2019–2022 [PDF, 414 KB]

Work has already started

Many actions in the plan build on work already underway to help address workforce challenges. These include the following government and sector initiatives.

  • One Billion Trees Programme, which provides direct grants for landowners to plant trees on their land or revert land to native forest, and partnership funding for organisations and community groups who have ideas to support tree planting and improve how we grow and plant trees.
  • Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships for Māori or female students enrolling in the University of Canterbury's Bachelor of Forestry Science or Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in forest engineering.
  • Joint Te Uru Rākau and the Ministry of Social Development silviculture recruitment campaign.
  • Forestry workforce roadshows for forestry employers and contractors, run by Te Uru Rākau with support from the Ministry of Social Development, Forest Industry Contractors Association, Forest Industry Safety Council, and Forest Owners Association.
  • Provincial Growth Fund to help regional communities sustainably increase their productivity and prosperity.
  • Safetree Certification for forestry contractors and workers to get official recognition from the sector that their skills are up to date.
  • Forestry roadmap for Aotearoa New Zealand 2020–2050, a strategic vision for the sector which clarifies drivers and strategic priorities for stakeholders, government, and the wider sector.

Find out more

One Billion Trees Programme

Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships

The Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Council

The Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Council has been established to oversee the actions specific to developing workforce capability and capacity for forestry and wood processing. It will take the lead in the sector's workforce development challenges.

The council will collaborate with the Food and Fibre Skills Establishment Group and the sector to ensure that the workforce development needs across the wider primary sector are considered and aligned.

Council members

The council is made up of representatives nominated by their industry body to represent the wide range of skills required in a thriving forestry sector.

Council communications


  • Nathan Fogden, Inta-Wood Forestry Limited
  • Nick Tombleson, Tombleson Logging Limited
  • Wini Geddes, Tāne Mahuta NZ Limited


  • Dr David Evison, University of Canterbury

Forest owners

  • Fraser Field, Rayonier Matariki Forests (chair)
  • Glen Mackie, New Zealand Forest Owners Association

Forestry workers

  • Richard Stringfellow, Forest Industry Safety Council


  • Chris Denly, Ministry of Social Development
  • Marion Schrama, Te Uru Rākau

Independent training organisations

  • Mark Preece, Competenz


  • Rob Tiopira, National Manager Iwi & Government relationships


  • Vern Harris, Marlborough Forestry Industry Association, Forest and Environmental Management Limited


  • Fiona Ewing, Forest Industry Safety Council (deputy chair)

Small woodlots

  • Eric Cairns, NZ Farm Forestry


  • Louisa Jones, FIRST Union

Wood processing

  • Craig Christie, XLam NZ Limited
  • Jeff Ilott, New Zealand Timber Industry Federation


  • Adrian Loo, Forest Management Limited

 Te Uru Rākau provides secretariat support for the council.

Young man in a helmet and high-vis clothing in a forest
Image: Forest Industry Contractors Association

Statement from council chair Fraser Field

"The inaugural meeting of the workforce council was the culmination of a huge amount of collaboration between Te Uru Rākau, MPI, and the forestry and wood processing sector.

"We have already seen work getting underway: vigorous discussion over direction, graduates passionate about their career in forestry, veterans keen to mould reformed vocational education into a fit-for-purpose training system that creates engaged and knowledgeable professionals, and ministry research specialists assessing workforce demand and developing better methods of monitoring trends."

Adrian Loo – Forest Management Limited

"I am looking forward to taking a lead in developing the sector’s workforce by being a part of this group uniting the forestry and wood processing sectors. As an early career professional in the industry, I am looking forward to growing to assume a leadership role and ultimately being a driving force behind future development and improvement within the forestry sector."

Mark Preece – Competenz

"We need to ensure we promote the sectors in a way that will attract new workers to meet the ongoing production demands. We also need to ensure the workers have the right skills and knowledge to ensure they are safe and productive. The action plan will help achieve this."

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