13 May 2014

Ministers accused of ignoring forestry

2:48 pm on 13 May 2014

A professional forester has had a chip at the primary industries and education ministers for ignoring forestry in a programme to promote careers in primary industries.

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Nathan Guy and Hekia Parata last week launched the Enterprising Primary Industries Career Challenge - a competition for year 10 students to identify and promote different careers in the primary sector.

The range of careers quoted includes farming, fishing, horticulture, marketing, remote sensing, robotics, chemical engineering, genetics, nutrition, policy, communications, product design, science and IT.

But Andrew McEwen, who has spent 50 years in the forestry sector, complained in an open letter to the ministers that his industry did not get a mention.

"It may have been a slip, I don't know, but we get the impression that forestry is not always very high in the minds of politicians and officials," Dr McEwen said.

"Dairy farming certainly is, irrigation certainly is, and some other forms of farming, but forestry doesn't seem to get the same profile that other primary industries get."

Dr McEwen conceded that the forest industry's poor safety record and high accident rate had not helped its image.

But the Government said forestry was not intentionally left out of the list of primary industry career opportunities that school students could aspire to.

Nathan Guy's office said in fact the forestry sector is part of the EPIC challenge school careers programme. It said the fact that it was not mentioned was down to a matter of space.