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Tairawhiti forest industry ‘toughest in the country’

Forestry manager Ian Brown, with 40 years experience in the industry, has been appointed the new chair of the Eastland Wood Council.

His appointment was ratified by the EWC members earlier this month after the council's annual meeting.

He replaces outgoing chair Daniel Williams who stepped down after three years in the role.

Mr Brown, who operates Woodhill Consulting Ltd, has managed forests in three countries in a variety of senior roles with both large and small organisations.

He has a BSc forestry degree from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and while in that country he worked in harvesting, transport, marketing, forest management and commercial forest development before deciding to emigrate to New Zealand in 1996.

In New Zealand he continued his career with senior roles in harvesting, transport, and supply chain management for Fletcher Challenge Forests, and later managed K&S Freighters' New Zealand operations for a number of years before moving to Sydney in 2009 to take up the softwood division general manager role with Forestry Corporation of NSW.

“Ian is a tremendous asset to EWC, because he brings with him many years of experience in leadership, with all aspects of production forestry and considerable knowledge of the supply chain,” said EWC chief executive Philip Hope.

“Also, he has a personal commitment to kaitiakitanga of our whenua and the health and safety of our workforce.”

In late 2017 Mr Brown moved back to New Zealand, this time to take on the general manager role at Hikurangi Forest Farms, which later became Aratu Forests on the successful acquisition of the HFF assets by New Forests in mid-2019, when Ian was appointed as CEO.

He retired from full-time work in late 2020 to pursue aspects of forestry that he was personally interested in, through his company Woodhill Consulting Ltd.

“Even though I have only been in Gisborne for four years, I have grown a very strong personal connection to the forest industry in Tairawhiti,” Mr Brown said.

“We have arguably the toughest forest business environment in the country through its remoteness from other regions, significant safety and environmental challenges, high cost-structure, and its infrastructure operating above capacity.

“These business challenges form the foundation for camaraderie and resilience that is endemic to this region, but also provide the need for cooperation and mutual understanding of these challenges by all parties across the supply chain and in the community,” he said.

“This is the reason why the EWC is so important in forging the future for the forest industry here in Tairawhiti.

“It is the forum through which that cooperation and mutual understanding can be attained and grown, so the industry and the region can prosper.

“I am honoured to be appointed to the role of chair of this organisation and look forward to fostering mutual respect and understanding, and to giving something back to the industry and to the region.”

Mr Brown is married with two children His daughter is a geotechnical engineer and his son an electrical engineer.

NEW CHAIR: Former chief executive of Aratu Forests, Ian Brown, a man with 40 years experience in the forestry industry, has taken over the reins as chair of the Eastland Wood Council. Picture supplied