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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

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 (www.safetree.nz) 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.

Forestry Fighting Climate Change

A 2019 video campaign from NZFOA and NZ Wood that highlights forestry's role in fighting climate change.

Please note that the land type depicted is sheep and beef country and not to be understood as a comparison of forestry returns or employment with those of dairy farms.

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).


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 new one-stop shop for forestry careers

A new web portal, forestrycareers.nz, 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.

Scholarships & awards available

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.

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, forestrycareers.nz (http://www.forestrycareers.nz). 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 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 forestrycareers.nz. 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.

A snapshot of young professionals working in forestry
Rayonier, a strong supporter of the next generation
Young Leaders' Profile: Acacia Farmery
Technology and science careers in forestry
Young Leaders' Profile: Brionny Hooper
Young Leaders' Profile: Pauline Edge

Awards Programme


The 2020 SWC Forestry Awards Programme

Friday 8 May 2020, Dunedin, New Zealand

Mark the date into your diaries

This is the date set down for the eagerly awaited 2020 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards. Every year the forestry industry from throughout the lower South Island meet for an evening of celebration in Dunedin. It’s the one event clearly marked on everyone’s forestry calendar.

It’s the one event every year that continues to draw in 300-400 people directly employed in or associated with forest growing, wood harvesting, wood transport and timber processing from across the region to celebrate training and business success.

It’s a great night out. As well as the presentation of nine major forestry awards, framed national training certificates earned by employees across Otago and Southland during the year are also awarded on the night. The same location that’s worked so well for the industry for the last five years, the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin has again been selected.

The awards evening is run by the Southern Wood Council in conjunction with Competenz. It’s supported financially by major forestry companies, wood producers and supporting equipment, product and service suppliers to the wider industry across the region.

Wanting further information?

Keep an eye out for further updates. If you have any questions on the 2020 awards evening – as an award nominee or if you would like to be involved as an early sponsor or supporter to the 2020 awards event – please contact Brent Apthorp on Tel: 03 470 1902 or 021 227 5177 or Email: brent.apthorp@southernwoodcouncil.co.nz.

View Full Details on the SWC Awards 2020 Page
2019 Award Winners
AwardSponsored ByAward Winner
Training Excellence Awards:
Apprentice of the YearSouth Wood ExportPaige Harland, Harland Bros
Forestry Trainee of the Year (harvesting)Rayonier / Matariki ForestsHemi Pickett, Ferris Logging & Logan Bennett, Mike Hurring Logging
Forestry Trainee of the Year (silviculture)Port BlakelyAdam McLennan, Johnson Forestry Services
Skilled Professionals Awards:
Forestry Excellence Award (establishment, silviculture, fire, harvesting)Wenita Forest ProductsBilly Tredinnick, Forestry Training Services
Wood Processing Excellence AwardUDCJamie Carr, Pan Pac Forest Products (Otago)
Forest Products/Logistics/Transport/Port AwardPan Pac Forest Products (Otago)Stephen Gray, NFA Holdings & Craig Unahi, NFA Holdings
Industry Excellence Awards:
Forestry Environmental Management Excellence AwardOtago Regional CouncilMatt Winmill, Gillion Logging
Training Company/Contractor of the YearCity ForestsJohnson Forestry Services
Forest Products Health & Safety AwardErnslaw OneDynes Transport
Harvesting Apprentices - Otago Southland:
Around 160 National Training Certificates that had been achieved in Forestry & Wood Processing were awarded to top local contractors and forestry and wood processing employees. Eight harvesting apprentices that have been involved in the Balclutha training school were also recognised at the awards ceremony.

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 2018

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 Rob Sheppard, a Bachelor of Forestry Science student, studying at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch.

Rob, a mature student, had worked extensively in agriculture and tourism since leaving school. As well as an outdoors background including guiding (canoeing, horse trekking and hiking), instructing and animal control he also has family interests in both sawmilling and farming. Rob was also employed by a SWC member company, Port Blakely for three months work experience over the 2017/2018 summer period.

The Scholarship is the seventh 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 has 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 Rob and the industry is keen to continue to support the current scholarship recipients (Logan Robertson, 2017 Scholarship winner and Rhys Black, 2016 Scholarship winner), both in their study – and in their future employment” says Mr Dodson.

The University Scholarship is offered each year by the SWC in addition to running the largest gathering of its type for forestry contractors and those working within the local forestry, wood products and transport industries.

A major industry training and awards evening in May of each year is run with well over 350 attending. This year’s SWC Forest Products Training Awards is being run in conjunction with Competenz, local industry and key suppliers to the forestry industry in Dunedin on Friday 25 May 2018.


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
Port BlakelyPO Box 13-980, ChristchurchPhil Taylor(+64) 3 365 2846www.portblakely.com/blakely-pacific/about
City Forests LtdPO Box 210, DunedinGrant Dodson (SWC Chairman)(+64) 3 467 7722www.cityforests.co.nz
South Wood Export LtdPO Box 7010, InvercargillGraeme Manley(+64) 3 218 2073
Southern Wood CouncilPO Box 904, DunedinBrent Apthorp (SWC Secretary)(+64) 3 470 1902www.southernwoodcouncil.co.nz
Great SouthPO Box 1306, InvercargillIsabel Huther(+64) 3 211 1400www.greatsouth.nz
Wenita Forest Products LtdPO Box 341, MosgielDavid Cormack(+64) 3 489 3234www.wenita.co.nz
PF Olsen & Co.PO Box 975, DunedinDavid Thode(+64) 3 453 6819www.pfolsen.co.nz
Craigpine Timber LtdPO Box 55, WintonDon Frengley(+64) 3 236 7533www.craigpine.co.nz
Ernslaw One LtdPO Box 36, TapanuiPhil de la Mare(+64) 3 204 8061www.ernslaw.co.nz
Ministry for Primary IndustriesPrivate Bag 1926, Dunedin 9054Parnell Trost(+64) 3 477 8454www.mpi.govt.nz
Port Otago LtdPO Box 8, Port Chalmers, DunedinCraig Usher(+64) 3 472 9886www.portotago.co.nz
Daiken Southland LtdPO Box 189, GoreDean Cochrane(+64) 3 209 570www.customwood.co.nz
Rayonier Asia Pacific LtdPO Box 1742, InvercargillMark Grover(+64) 3 211 1272www.rayonier.com
South Port NZ LtdPO Box 1, BluffJamie May(+64) 3 212 6000www.southport.co.nz
Pan Pac Forest Products (Otago) LtdPO Box 135, Milton 9241Blair Watson(+64) 6 831 0138www.panpac.co.nz
CompetenzPO Box 2132, South Dunedin 9044Phil Williams(+64) 3 4817 102www.competenz.org.nz
Log Marketing NZ LtdPO Box 542, Invercargill 9840Greg Lindsay(+64) 3 230 3027www.logmarketing.co.nz
Forest Management Ltd101 West Plains Road, RD4, Invercargill, Southland 9874Simon Callaghan(+64) 21 972 508www.forestmanagement.co.nz


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 www.woodenergysouth.co.nz.

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) 3 470 1902
  Fax: (+64) 3 470 1904

Brent Apthorp
Southern Wood Council Inc
c/o Distinction Dunedin Hotel,
6 Liverpool Street,
Dunedin 9016, New Zealand

PO Box 904,
Dunedin 9054, New Zealand