Making Maori forestry sustainable

COLUMN

Local Forester’s letter to the editor, published July 8, articulates some ideas on how to improve forestry training outcomes. From my perspective, quality training outcomes are a by-product of achieving what I deem to be the ultimate sector goal — commercial forestry sustainability. So I’ve been doing some critical thinking and modelling and I’ve come up with a Maori commercial forestry sustainability model and a strategic planning tool which are geared towards lifting the performance and resilience of the Maori economy for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

The model attempts to aid comprehension of the forestry sustainability phenomenon from a Maori world view; stimulate strategic thinking in a post-Treaty settlement context; and lay the platform for Maori foresters to get on to the strategic planning pathway towards sustainability. The model defines Maori commercial forestry sustainability as the “ability to successfully compete in the commercial forestry sector indefinitely, having regard to Maori values, aspirations and strategic priorities.” The model’s foundation for success is “collaborative strategic partnerships” to improve strategic positioning in order to successfully plan and achieve the model’s social, environmental and economic sustainability-enabling outcomes. An example of a sustainability-enabling outcome is: “An effective system is in place to forecast skills needs over the short, medium and long terms.”

The model identifies 25 sustainability inhibitors. An inhibitor is something that can have an adverse impact on sustainability if neglected, such as safety; skills recruitment; skills development; skills retention; and skills replacement. The safety and skills inhibitors are correlated. You cannot address one in isolation from the other. A skills shortage has an adverse impact on safety. A poor safety record has an adverse impact on skills recruitment.

The strategic planning tool provides guidance on the model’s practical application, so Maori foresters and strategists can formulate their own forestry sustainability strategy that delivers the model’s sustainability-enabling outcomes. More specifically, it provides guidance on a suggested approach to formalising and focusing strategic partnerships; planning towards commercial forestry sustainability; and leveraging competitive advantages.

The tool groups the model’s sustainability-enabling outcomes under the three pillars of sustainability (social, environmental and economic). The desired outcomes are then incorporated into four template action plans (1) Workforce Management; (2) Health and Safety Compliance; (3) Environmental Protection; and (4) Profitability. Each action plan has an objective and suggests action areas and desired outcomes necessary to meet the plan’s objective.

For example, the objective of action plan 1: Workforce Management is “to ensure the local labour market is supplying enough skilled workers to meet current and future demand”. Achieving this objective would resolve the skills shortage situation. Specific actions will need to be identified in order to achieve the outcomes stated in the template plan in order to meet the plan’s objective. This is where the ideas proffered by Local Forester come into play. For instance, an outcome specified on the template Action Plan 1 is: “There is an effective community education and skills recruitment strategy in place.” Local Forester’s ideas of using social media; having a parents’ night; and showing how equipment works, can all be built into a community education and skills recruitment strategy.

We need new ideas on how to resolve training and other issues that are having an adverse impact on forestry safety and productivity, and are stifling regional economic growth. But we also need new ways of processing those ideas and converting them into actions that deliver outcomes conducive to sustainability.

Local Forester’s letter to the editor, published July 8, articulates some ideas on how to improve forestry training outcomes. From my perspective, quality training outcomes are a by-product of achieving what I deem to be the ultimate sector goal — commercial forestry sustainability. So I’ve been doing some critical thinking and modelling and I’ve come up with a Maori commercial forestry sustainability model and a strategic planning tool which are geared towards lifting the performance and resilience of the Maori economy for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

The model attempts to aid comprehension of the forestry sustainability phenomenon from a Maori world view; stimulate strategic thinking in a post-Treaty settlement context; and lay the platform for Maori foresters to get on to the strategic planning pathway towards sustainability. The model defines Maori commercial forestry sustainability as the “ability to successfully compete in the commercial forestry sector indefinitely, having regard to Maori values, aspirations and strategic priorities.” The model’s foundation for success is “collaborative strategic partnerships” to improve strategic positioning in order to successfully plan and achieve the model’s social, environmental and economic sustainability-enabling outcomes. An example of a sustainability-enabling outcome is: “An effective system is in place to forecast skills needs over the short, medium and long terms.”

The model identifies 25 sustainability inhibitors. An inhibitor is something that can have an adverse impact on sustainability if neglected, such as safety; skills recruitment; skills development; skills retention; and skills replacement. The safety and skills inhibitors are correlated. You cannot address one in isolation from the other. A skills shortage has an adverse impact on safety. A poor safety record has an adverse impact on skills recruitment.

The strategic planning tool provides guidance on the model’s practical application, so Maori foresters and strategists can formulate their own forestry sustainability strategy that delivers the model’s sustainability-enabling outcomes. More specifically, it provides guidance on a suggested approach to formalising and focusing strategic partnerships; planning towards commercial forestry sustainability; and leveraging competitive advantages.

The tool groups the model’s sustainability-enabling outcomes under the three pillars of sustainability (social, environmental and economic). The desired outcomes are then incorporated into four template action plans (1) Workforce Management; (2) Health and Safety Compliance; (3) Environmental Protection; and (4) Profitability. Each action plan has an objective and suggests action areas and desired outcomes necessary to meet the plan’s objective.

For example, the objective of action plan 1: Workforce Management is “to ensure the local labour market is supplying enough skilled workers to meet current and future demand”. Achieving this objective would resolve the skills shortage situation. Specific actions will need to be identified in order to achieve the outcomes stated in the template plan in order to meet the plan’s objective. This is where the ideas proffered by Local Forester come into play. For instance, an outcome specified on the template Action Plan 1 is: “There is an effective community education and skills recruitment strategy in place.” Local Forester’s ideas of using social media; having a parents’ night; and showing how equipment works, can all be built into a community education and skills recruitment strategy.

We need new ideas on how to resolve training and other issues that are having an adverse impact on forestry safety and productivity, and are stifling regional economic growth. But we also need new ways of processing those ideas and converting them into actions that deliver outcomes conducive to sustainability.

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