Hon Shane Jones, Minister of Forestry
A pilot will see release to work prisoners training and working in the forestry sector as part of the One Billion Trees Programme, Forestry Minister Shane Jones and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis announced today.
The pilot – jointly developed by Te Uru Rākau and the Department of Corrections - will involve up to 15 prisoners from the Northland Regional Corrections Facility employed to plant seedlings as part of the 2019 season.
They will also work towards an NCEA Level 2 Qualification as part of the programme, supporting their reintegration and providing potential employment opportunities once released.
“It is these sorts of initiatives that are really at the core of what the One Billion Trees Programme is all about,” Shane Jones said.
“Yes, it’s about planting trees, but it’s also about providing employment opportunities and helping fill skill shortages. This pilot could pave the way for prisoners who are at the end of their sentence to find employment in the forestry sector – one of our most successful industries.”
The pilot will be located in Northland with Crown Forestry joint ventures needing planters in this area for the upcoming season.
Kelvin Davis says this pilot expands on the successful release to work programme already in place in New Zealand prisons.
“A good proportion of people in New Zealand prisons participate in employment or industry training. This is a great opportunity to expand our release to work programmes while also supporting regional employment opportunities and helping to reach the government’s goal of planting one billion trees by 2028,” Kelvin Davis said.
Release to Work programme
A good proportion of people in New Zealand prisons participate in employment or industry training. Prisoners are trained in industries such as construction, farming, nurseries, forestry, timber processing, furniture making, textiles, catering, engineering, concrete product manufacturing, printing and laundries.
Some examples of forestry or related training currently offered in prisons across New Zealand include:
- a release to work programme for seven prisoners from Tongariro Prison focused on planting and pruning of Radiata Pine; and
- six prison nurseries supplying a range of public and private organisations.
A workshop based forestry training programme at NRCF is also being developed which provides 10 prisoners at a time with an introduction to the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to enter the forestry industry and training towards a National Certificate in Forestry Level 2.
The Northland Pilot
This release to work programme will involve 10 prisoners working onsite (with a rotation of 15). It will include two Corrections officers overseeing the workers, with the planting work managed by a silviculture contractor.
The primary objective of this particular pilot is to allow Corrections’ managed people to undertake forestry related training and work which will support their reintegration and provide potential employment opportunities on release from prison.
If successful and the pilot is rolled out, this will further help the forestry industry to fill skill shortages and support the One Billion Trees Programme.
The pilot will commence in April with training of the selected prisoners occurring through until May. Participants will be trained to meet industry standards through a combination of pre-work health and safety units and on-the-job training. This will lead to a Level 2 New Zealand Certificate in Forest Industry Foundation Skills qualification, which will be delivered in partnership between Corrections and a qualified training provider.
Training will be followed by the May to September planting season, where the participating prisoners will undertake planting work for a forestry contractor while on a release to work programme.
The pilot will also include identifying longer term jobs for participants once released, which could include wider training in related forestry activities and rural skills such as fencing or pest control, from September 2019 onwards.
Crown Forestry is currently progressing negotiations with landowners in Northland that could result in up to 1700 hectares of land available through a commercial joint venture arrangement for planting in 2019. This is why the pilot will be based in Northland.