Forestry - Building a Future in the South

SWC Forestry Awards Winners 2023 | Event Details

The Southern Wood Council Inc (SWC) was set up in 2001 to promote, encourage and coordinate the sustainable economic development of the forest products industry in the Otago and Southland regions of New Zealand.

Our Industry Role

The Southern Wood Council includes all the major forest owners within the region, forest managers, larger wood processing and manufacturing companies, port authorities and representatives from local councils, industry training and Government organisations. SWC member companies own or manage the majority of the larger plantation forests within the region. It is one of few truly independent groups of its type that have been set up and currently one of the most active regional forestry groupings operating in New Zealand.

Economic Development

To promote, encourage and coordinate the sustainable economic development of the forest products industry in Otago and Southland.


To promote cooperation within and between established national and regional forest industry bodies, local authorities and other relevant groups.

Independent Body

To provide an independent body to bring together and improve communication between persons and groups involved with the business of forest products in the region to work collectively on issues of common interest.

Industry Initiatives

To promote and support regional forestry initiatives and assist in implementing national initiatives.

Sector Promotion

To actively promote the benefits of forestry and related industries to the community.

Industry News

For all the latest forest and wood products news and developments, SWC recommends the industry's leading news source, Friday Offcuts.

Major Industry Promotions

NZ Wood: Love our Forests

The NZ Wood advertising campaign was launched in December 2015. The aim of this campaign is to promote and profile the forest growing industry in a positive light and to educate the general public and politicians about the huge value the industry brings to New Zealand and New Zealanders.

The concept "Love our forests" underpins all the reasons that forestry is great. Real people have been to tell the story and in the process, some great talent lurking in the forestry industry has been found!

For this first phase of the campaign we have chosen three key areas:

  1. The economic benefits of forests (link)
  2. The environmental benefits of forests (link)
  3. The recreational benefits of forests (link)

These three themes have been created for both billboards and magazines/newspapers. Attached is a short video being used as part of the campaign to promote forestry – to the community – to the industry and to Government.

Forestry Work Opportunities

“Women are the answer to New Zealand’s skilled worker shortage,” says Pamela Bell, CEO PrefabNZ. “Wood is going to be bigger than dairy – more sustainable and provide the jobs for our future,” says Pamela.

PrefabNZ, in collaboration with Carter Holt Harvey Woodproducts, BCITO and CareersNZ, has produced the logs4jobs video to raise the awareness of young people, especially females, of the work opportunities open to them in wood processing and manufacturing.

Statistics New Zealand estimates a growth in employment of 107,800 jobs in primary industries, manufacturing and construction by 2023. Women are also the untapped workforce able to fill the future skilled worker shortage according to recent research (Destination Trades).

Growing the Safety Culture

A video and case study with tips on improving the safety culture of forestry workers was released in August 2016 and has been posted onto the SafeTree New Zealand ( website. It features a Southern Wood Council member. See how forest owner/manager Blakely Pacific reduced injuries and boosted productivity by working on attitudes towards health and safety among its workers. Watch the video above and read the full case study.


Careers in Forestry

Forestry Careers & Training Opportunities

There are a wide range of exciting roles within the forestry industry. Check out the stories below highlighting young men and woman who picked forestry as their future career. The training and jobs now being undertaken by all of them are as diverse and exciting as the industry.

A One-Stop-Shop for Forestry Careers

A new web portal,, is a comprehensive starting point for anyone interested in forestry education, training and careers. It provides a wealth of information and directs you to other relevant websites and sources of information.

It contains information about the myriad of career opportunities available in forestry. It covers options from practical roles in silviculture and harvesting to forest management, engineering, surveying, research, administration, human resource management, IT and others. Details on some 30 types of jobs are provided. In addition, an outline of the work involved, salary range, and what training or education might be needed to match each particular job is shown.

For more information on forestry careers, click here.

Download | Introduction to Forestry Careers

Forestry training – what’s on offer?

Details on the many regional and national education and training courses on offer can be found on the web portal, ( A full range, from entry level practical and academic courses through to options for further training mid-career to ideas for people thinking of moving into forestry from other sectors is supplied. There are numerous links to the various course providers’ websites and contact people.

For more information on forestry training options, click here.

Forestry Careers resources

A surprisingly large number of scholarships, awards and other assistance packages are available for education and training at every level in the industry.

For further information on what’s available, click here.

Scholarships & awards available

A raft of resources for school careers advisers or anyone else who needs information about forestry careers, education and training is able to be accessed through A great collection of videos and other resources are accessible and downloadable for people running careers and recruitment events.

For further information on what’s available, click here.


Video Profiles & Highlights

Careers Available in Forestry

Technology & science careers

Rayonier: The next generation

Check out what's happening in forestry careers – News, events, training opportunities and scholarships

Forestry Careers News & Events

Awards Programme

The SWC Forestry Awards Programme

The forestry awards programme for the lower South Island runs in May every year. Ten major awards, over one hundred certificates and spot prizes, are presented throughout the evening. The turnout continues to be, by far, the largest annual gathering of forestry and wood products companies, contractors and log transport operators from throughout the region. Well over 350 industry representatives attend this must-see event every year.

View the 2023 SWC Forestry Awards

SWC Scholarships

A generous annual scholarship was introduced by the Southern Wood Council for School of Forestry students in 2011 for their final three years of study. The inaugural scholarship was awarded to the first student in 2011 and currently, three students in any one year, are receiving funding through the annual scholarship programme.
SWC Forest Products Scholarships 2020

University of Canterbury forestry student picks up major award

A University of Canterbury forestry student has just received top forest industry honours with a major scholarship being awarded. This year’s Southern Wood Council (SWC) Scholarship has been awarded to Nic Melvin, a Bachelor of Forestry Science student, studying at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch.

Nic, from a strong forestry and farming background in Dipton, Southland has also had long family history within the industry. Both sides of the family can trace their family history back to Southland’s early settlement way back in the 1860’s. His father has been a contract tree feller and has run his own portable sawmilling operation, which Nic has been involved with from a very early age. The Melvin family, on coming to Southland were also sawmillers so it obviously runs in the blood. Having had “hands on experience” since a very young age, Nic wanted to pursue a degree in forestry science and is now completing his second year in the degree course at Canterbury University.

“I am pursuing a career in forestry as I want to work outdoors and do something where I can make a difference. Coming from Dipton, a small rural community in Southland, I have a great appreciation of the needs such communities face” said Nic. “By studying this professional degree, I am learning the skills necessary to help make a difference in the forestry industry, one that is growing and changing but short on the qualified professionals it needs”.

The Scholarship is the eighth that has been awarded to students as part of an annual scholarship programme set up by the Council in 2011. The annual scholarship awarded by the SWC is one of the most prestigious and valuable awarded to forestry students in New Zealand. In any one year, the SWC can have up to $13,500 committed to three student scholarships.

“The Annual Scholarship is an opportunity for forestry and wood products companies in the lower South Island to put back something into the industry and to support outstanding students studying towards either the Forestry Science or Forest Engineering courses at the School of Forestry” says SWC Chairman, Grant Dodson. “The SWC is delighted to award this year’s scholarship to Nic and the industry is keen to continue to support the current scholarship recipients, both in their study – and in their future employment” says Mr Dodson.

The University Scholarship is offered each year by the SWC. In addition, the Wood Council runs the largest gathering of its type for forestry contractors and those working within the local forestry, wood products and transport industries through an annual Training Awards evening. This year, because of COVID-19 the May awards evening unfortunately had to be cancelled but is planned to run again in May 2021.


The Southern Wood Council (SWC) represents a wide cross section of the forest and wood products industry, associated key service suppliers and representatives from local and central Government. All major forest owners and most wood processing and manufacturing companies in Otago and Southland are represented. Members along with contact details are listed below.

CompanyAddressKey ContactPhoneWebsite
City Forests LtdPO Box 210, DunedinGrant Dodson (SWC Chairman)(+64) 3 467
CompetenzPO Box 2132, South Dunedin 9044Nick Moore(+64) 3 4817
Daiken Southland LtdPO Box 189, GoreDean Cochrane(+64) 3 209
Ernslaw One LtdPO Box 36, TapanuiPhil de la Mare(+64) 3 204
Forest & Harvesting Managerslevel 2/2 Dowling Street, Central Dunedin, Dunedin 9016Tim Smith(+64) 3 488
Forest Management LtdPO Box 13125, Green Island, Dunedin 9052Matt Cotterrell(+64) 21 901
Great SouthPO Box 1306, InvercargillStephen Canny(+64) 3 211
John Turkington LtdPO Box 98, Marton, 4710John Turkington(+64) 27 445
Log Marketing NZ LtdPO Box 542, Invercargill 9840Greg Lindsay(+64) 3 230
Ministry for Primary IndustriesPrivate Bag 4765, Christchurch 8140 Parnell Trost(+64) 3 951
Pan Pac Forest Products (Otago) LtdPO Box 135, Milton 9241Anthony Conway(+64) 27 201
PF Olsen & Co.PO Box 975, DunedinDavid Thode(+64) 3 453
Port BlakelyPO Box 139, TimaruAndrew Cocking(+64) 274 375
Port Otago LtdPO Box 8, Port Chalmers, DunedinCraig Usher(+64) 3 472
Rayonier Matariki ForestsPO Box 1742, InvercargillHamish Fitzgerald(+64) 3 211
South Port NZ LtdPO Box 1, BluffJamie May(+64) 3 212
South Wood Export LtdPO Box 7010, InvercargillSteve Hindley(+64) 3 218
Southern Wood CouncilPO Box 904, DunedinRebecca Shepherd (SWC Secretary)(+64) 212 345
Venture Forestry104 Bond Street, PO Box 748, Dunedin 9054Anne Bridger(+64) 21 0843
Wenita Forest Products LtdPO Box 341, MosgielDavid Cormack(+64) 3 489


NZ Forest Industry Important Nationally, Regionally and Environmentally - NZIER Report

A report on the plantation forest industry has highlighted its value to national and regional economies, as well as forestry's beneficial effect on New Zealand's ecology. The NZIER Report was commissioned by the New Zealand Forest Owners Association and Farm Forestry Association.

The Report has found the forestry and logging sector is worth $1.4 billion to the national GDP, making a substantially larger contribution to GDP than either the sheep meat or beef sectors. Forestry is hugely important for many provincial economies.

The Report details that our production has gone from 10 million cubic metres of timber in 1989, to 28.7 million cubic metres last year. MPI forecasts New Zealand forest product export returns to reach $6.15 billion by 2020, from the current $5.14 billion in 2016, with increasing returns from sawn timber, wood panels, pulp and paper all contributing.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.

Otago/Southland Forestry Profile

A profile of the forestry sector in Otago – Southland has been prepared to support the recently released wood availability forecasts. The profile provides readers with:

  • an overview of the regional estate (in terms of species, distribution and ownership);
  • the trends in timber processing;
  • a summary of the harvest projections;
  • key contacts; and
  • a description of the infrastructure and services that have supported the growth of the industry.

Click here for a copy of the report

Wood Availability Forecasts – Otago/Southland

New wood availability forecasts for the Otago – Southland wood supply region were released in 2014. The forecasts cover the period 2014 to 2050, and replace the earlier forecasts from 2008. The forecasts were prepared by Indufor Asia Pacific Limited, and incorporate the harvest intentions of the region’s major plantation companies (with over 1 000 hectares of planted forest).

The forecasts were reviewed by local forest managers and consultants, to ensure they are a realistic representation of future supply. The forecasts have been a joint initiative between the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Southern Wood Council.

Indufor has prepared separate forecasts for Otago and Southland, as well as for the combined wood supply region. The forecasts are intended as a planning tool for the forest industry, councils and infrastructure providers.

Click here for forecasts

Southland Residue Supply Assessment

A Wood Energy Supply Study prepared by Ahika Consulting in July 2015 confirms available supply of wood fuel for southern industrial boilers until 2050. Businesses considering switching from fossil to wood fuels can be confident that there is sufficient supply through to 2050. The Wood Energy South project identified this concern from the offset and commissioned a study to quantify the volume of waste wood in the South Otago and Southland Region.

More than 1 million tonnes of logs are harvested annually and this is projected to continue to increase at a rate of 2% per annum over the next 30 years. A large majority of this is exported but a quarter (25%) of this harvest remains in Southland. The study estimates the annual waste wood volume is currently 200,000 tonnes and will increase to 600,000 tonnes per annum over the next 30 years.

Wood Energy South is a $1.5M joint venture project between Venture Southland and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). Currently there are eight wood fuel users across commercial, education and local government operations around Southland. The Wood Energy South project has technical expertise and funding available. For more information on this or to find out more about the wood supply please visit

Click here for a copy of the report

South Otago Wood Residue Supply Assessment

This report was prepared for Wood Energy South, Venture Southland and the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority by Ahika Consulting in July 2015. The report was commissioned to provide certainty to candidate industrial wood energy users within South Otago about the ongoing availability of wood residue as an energy source.

The assessment is focussed on South Otago. It evaluates the available woody biomass resources that are available within the region, highlights the challenges and constraints to enabling a supply network, identifies solutions to overcome likely constraints, identifies the most profitable and effective supply chains and provides a clear strategy to enable the sustainable delivery of wood fuel to potential industry users.

Click here for a copy of the report


Plantation Resource

The Southern Wood Council members manage plantations and processing operations in the Otago - Southland wood supply region. The region has a combined plantation estate of 208,744 hectares (1 April 2017). This resource represents 12.23% of New Zealand’s national estate and is concentrated in the Clutha, Southland, Waitaki and Dunedin districts. The estate is New Zealand’s most diversified, in terms of species (with large areas of Douglas-fir and eucalypts) and has doubled in size since the mid-1980s.

Otago/Southland Breakdown of Planted Production Forest Area (ha) by Region
as at 1 April 2017

Source: Southern Wood Council
Value of Industry

The forestry and timber processing sectors are major export industries for the Otago – Southland economy. This export focus will increase over the next decade with the maturing of the region’s forests. The combined export returns for logs, sawn timber and woodchips stood at $229.7million for the March 2015 year (provisional figures). The region accounted for 7.2% of New Zealand’s log exports (by value) and 7.8% of sawn timber exports.

Otago/Southland Value of Log & Sawn Timber Exports (Year ending March 2015)

Timber Processing

The Otago – Southland region has a history of sawmilling and timber processing that dates back more than 150 years. In the March 2014 year the region’s sawmills produced 346 000 m3 of rough sawn timber. This was equivalent to 8.8% of New Zealand’s sawn timber production.

Otago/Southland Production of Sawn Timber (m³) by Species from 2000 to 2014


The forestry sector is an important employer across Otago and Southland, particularly in regional centres such as Milton and Winton.

In 2014 the industry employed an estimated 1 741 workers in forestry and logging, support services and first stage timber processing (sawmilling, timber dressing and other wood product manufacturing). Of this total, 366 were employed in forestry and logging and 770 in sawmilling and timber dressing. The employment is concentrated in the Southland, Clutha and Dunedin districts.

Otago/Southland Employment in Forestry by Region from 2005 to 2014


Contact Details

  Ph: (+64) 212 345 297

Rebecca Shepherd
Southern Wood Council Inc
PO Box 904,
Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

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