Forecasting the forest growing workforce demand within the Canterbury/West Coast region.

Type of content
Theses / Dissertations
Publisher's DOI/URI
Thesis discipline
Degree name
Bachelor of Forestry Science
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Parkes, Heath

The forestry industry has grown into becoming a major contributor to New Zealand’s economy and employment by becoming one of the country’s staple export earners. It is estimated that the industry currently employs over 40,000 individuals, this number has been rising steadily since 2015. Employment within the industry is heavily dependent on the export timber market in the short term and the area by age class distribution of the forestry resource in the long term and can at times create abrupt shortages in job-specific roles within the industry.

A survey of the forest-growing workforce within the Canterbury/West Coast region was conducted in order to characterise the region's employment. A total of 42 businesses were identified during the study, of these businesses a response rate of 69% was achieved. Using data collected from the survey alongside publicly available information, a regional workforce forecasting model was developed in order to forecast regional demand between 2023 – 2053. Results were then analysed to determine the key trends in future workforce demand and more specifically demand which job roles experience the most fluctuation under the forecast conditions.

Results showed that the majority of employment falls within forest harvesting and log transportation. It was found that these two sub-groups are affected the most by changes in wood availability, this is due to the fact that both harvesting and log transportation are completely reliant on future harvest volumes. It is expected that the Canterbury/West Coast forest workforce demand will contract significantly from 2023 – 2043 as regional wood availability reduces. Workforce demand is expected to recover from 2036 – 2044, however, still expected to be 23% lower than employment levels experienced during 2023.

The Canterbury/West Coast forest industry needs to prepare for a reduction in forest harvest activity and employment. This research quantifies the impact of the decline in harvesting activity on those job roles associated with harvesting. The future trend in forest management and silviculture job roles also depends on the level of investment in new planting and replanting. Employment at the port depends on the volume of wood allocated to the export log market and to domestic processing. It is important to fully quantify how the workforce will be affected in order to make better decisions based on more robust data.

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