Episode 27 - Survival of the Fittest
On the next episode, screening 16 September 2018 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
Nathan Fogden is passionate about his work helping develop forestry blocks in Bay of Plenty and Waikato.
He says the harvesting crews might get all the glory, but his team are the ones who grow the value in the first place.
Nathan has worked in forestry since he was 18 and in 1996 he set up his own contracting company, Inta-Wood, which now employs 30 people planting trees, pruning and thinning to waste.
Planting is a hot topic right now. Forestry Minister Shane Jones wants a billion trees planted in the next decade, around double the current rate. Nathan is enthusiastic about the vision, but says the biggest hurdle is labour.
Inta-Wood currently plants nearly one and a half million trees a year, but often has to turn clients away. The company can’t find enough New Zealanders willing to commit to this very physical work. Nathan says the demands of forestry work are the same as shearing, and many locals are not happy to push themselves to do it.
But a solution has come from the Pacific. Nathan says Fijian workers have the right temperament, work ethic and physicality to enjoy the work. Inta-Wood now employs almost as many Fijians as New Zealanders.
Nathan says the way forward is for the industry to create a career pathway to retain skilled workers, which is where Inta-Wood’s pruning and thinning operations come in handy.
Forests are planted very densely and after for four to eight years, pruning crews select the best specimens based on the tree’s health, form and spacing. Roughly four out of every 10 trees are pruned so they will grow straighter and higher.
Pruning can be done all year round, which means good workers who plant during winter can get continuity of work.
Inta-Wood also thins forests to waste. After eight to 12 years, the best trees need more space to reach their full height, girth and value, so Nathan’s crews fell the unwanted ones.
This the most hazardous task for the workers, who have to navigate dense forests, dropping unwanted trees at a rate of around one per minute.
Nathan’s best workers graduate to leadership roles, where they pass on their skills to newer workers. Several of his leaders have been with him for well over 15 years.
The company’s motto is ‘Developing Forests, Developing People’ and Nathan hopes with the challenge of the one billion-tree programme, he can develop a lot more people in the years to come.
Find out more about Nathan's contracting business here.
Read more about the Forestry Industry Contractors Association here.
Find out more about the Government's One Billion Trees programme here.
Camera & Aerial Photography
Editor & Colourist
Post Production Manager