“General manager Henare Walker says strong communities are vital to Summit’s sustainability, and how the company contributes and operates in them is key.
“We contribute to and initiate community activities such as hosting local fun runs through the forest, supporting local sports clubs, schools, and marae projects. Where possible, we spend locally by using local contractors and sourcing whatever the business needs within the region to benefit the local economy. We really value the relationships we have built with the communities we work within.”
Read more about Summit Forests, our history in NZ and our focus on sustainable operations in the latest Business North magazine HERE in full below.
The forestry industry is going through interesting times with the threat of climate change and New Zealand’s response to this, which includes net carbon zero targets, emission reduction budgets, policies looking to drive further afforestation, and growing interest in carbon as an investment, as well as a central push to investigate various uses of wood fibre.
Henare Walker, Summit Forests GM, says the drive towards a circular bioeconomy is creating further opportunity to widen the scope of the forest and wood-processing industry to develop further value-added products and jobs.
“Māori Forestry is also growing, and with a push to plant even more land, Māori are well placed to expand into traditional production forestry and emerging opportunities. It is an exciting time and the industry can play an important part in addressing climate change and New Zealand’s drive toward a circular bioeconomy. The threats at this point are inaction and the failure to grasp the opportunities,” Henare says.
Summit was established by Sumitomo Corporation in 2013 through the purchase of the Juken Northern Estate in the Far North, which has remained the core of Summit’s business while gradually expanding its holdings in Te Tairawhiti and Whanganui.
Recently, Summit acquired Ernslaw One’s Whangapoua estate in the Coromandel and their Ruatoria forests which takes the company to around 52,000 hectares of forest holdings.
“We now have a team in Whangapoua and are currently establishing our management function in the Gisborne/East Coast region,” says Henare. “These additions to our estate will see us go from around 550,000 to 700,000 tonnes over the next 12 months and push closer towards 8-900,000 tonnes in the following years. Northland will still be our most active area in the near term and this part of our business is heavily weighted to the local mills, with approximately eighty-five percent of our volume sold domestically. The domestic markets in Coromandel and Te Tairāwhiti are very limited, hence we rely on export which is largely dominated by sales to China, with smaller volumes going to other countries around Asia.”
Sumitomo is a multinational diversified business based in Japan with over 100 years of trade and a group history that stretches back over 400 years.
In line with Sumitomo’s philosophy, Summit takes a holistic view of sustainability which includes economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Summit manages its operations in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) principles.
The company also contributes to and drives various conservation and environmental initiatives to enhance and restore ecosystems or improve the environmental ‘value’ of both the land its manages and of the areas and communities they work within. Recent projects include supporting active kiwi protection and management, the restoration of local sand dune lakes, and Tane’s Tree Trust plantings with the local community and schools.
Summit Forests is one of the major log suppliers to local mills and a key employer in the region. Consequently, the company looks to plan, harvest, and replant its forest estate in a manner that provides stable and continuous work for its people, contractors, and the local sawmills and manufacturers.
“We aim to create a safe, stable work environment and, in doing so, support key domestic and export markets,” explains Henare. “To achieve this, we have been actively acquiring further forest assets to ensure we can provide a more stable wood supply to support the local business and communities that rely on us. Our larger forest holdings are all on Iwi or Māori-owned land, and with our two key operating areas being Te Tai Tokerau and Te Tairawhiti, the tāngata whenua are key to our business and there are many cultural aspects that need to be considered. Values around kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection) and whānaungatanga (a relationship that works for all parties) are key drivers in terms of how the tāngata whenua would like us to manage our activities on their lands.”
With Summit’s forests located in rural New Zealand, the majority of its people are a part of those rural communities, and have a passionate interest in what the company does and how it operates within their communities.
Henare says strong communities are vital to Summit’s sustainability, and how the company contributes and operates in them is key.
“We contribute to and initiate community activities such as hosting local fun runs through the forest, supporting local sports clubs, schools, and marae projects. Where possible, we spend locally by using local contractors and sourcing whatever the business needs within the region to benefit the local economy. We have run various educational initiatives such as internships and scholarships targeted toward developing local rangatahi into forestry roles. We also run forestry days where schools come and learn more about what the sector has to offer. We really value the relationships we have built with the communities we work within.”