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Meet Simon van Haandel – A man who loves his trees

07 June 2024

When it comes to forestry management, you need to have someone who knows their stuff so that the right decisions are being made for each individual farm. Simon van Haandel, Forestry Business Manager here at Pāmu, is that guy. 

Simon has a big role, overseeing the management of the forestry estate for Pāmu. He’s developing strategies and plans to improve economic, environmental and biodiversity outcomes. The aim? To drive development on each farm in a sustainable way that improves farm resilience. 

Having been a professional forest manager for PF Olsen in the Gisborne region, Simon was well placed to take on the role at Pāmu. His forestry knowledge (particularly silviculture – growing and tending forests) and experience on Pāmu farms set him in good stead for the challenge that awaited him.

And with forestry, there are numerous challenges, which is what gets Simon out of bed in the morning! “I love the challenge of solving complex problems that have no clear or easy solution. I have a real desire to develop and grow something that will stand the test of time and hopefully be looked back upon as a good decision. I really hope what I create through my work will be a legacy that someone else can enjoy and benefit from in the future.”

A role as diverse as Simon’s makes it hard to narrow down just three things he loves most about his job, but it’s the problem solving, developing things that will be beneficial in the future, and working in a supportive team, that come out on top. 

Pāmu values to Simon

The Pāmu values are strong, we all know them and resonate with one or more of them. For Simon, it’s ‘Genuine’. 

“I have always been very honest even when it’s a tough or difficult situation that others may shy away from. I think it’s shown in my work by the open and honest conversations that I’ve had with the farm teams about forestry on their farms and the impacts of this.”

Simon says that “as a business and as people, we need to recognise that forestry does impact the farm teams both personally and socially in the farming communities. These are not easy conversations but being genuine and honest helps.”

Connection with Parikānapa Station

Before Cyclone Gabrielle hit, Simon worked closely with Jimmy at Parikānapa Station on the East Coast of the north island. They built a logging road that “drastically improved access to that side of the farm.” This road held up well during the cyclone, where others didn’t, making the clean up more manageable. 

Simon’s now working with Jimmy and the team on:

  • removing forestry from vulnerable soils/sites
  • new forestry on remote parts of the farm
  • improving access through the farm
  • a potential quarry site on the property that could be used to metal farm tracks and roads as well as supply metal for future forestry roads.

“It’s really about using forestry to help develop the properties and to become resilient in the face of economic and climate change.”

Another highlight for Simon was working with Micky at Te Whārua Farm on the afforestation plans. “He wasn’t the biggest fan of forestry at the start, but he worked with me to use forestry as a mechanism to help develop the farm with new fencing and tracking so that he could farm the remaining farm platform better.”

Simon has a lot he wants to achieve but with a problem-solving mind and supportive people around him, he knows he will get there. Forestry is a topic that seems to evoke many emotions in people, but given Simon is so aware of this, he knows how to deal with the different opinions and help to educate people along the way. 

Pāmu are proud to have Simon’s knowledge and expertise to drive the forestry strategy and take it to the next level.