Forest Research

Committee Chairman: Phil Taylor (Blakely Pacific Ltd)

Vice Chairman: Grant Dodson, City Forests

Objectives: Identifies research programmes and projects of importance to the forest growing and harvesting sector, works with other groups to arrange research funding and dissemination of information, and provides forest growers' views on pan industry research.

Website: http://research.nzfoa.org.nz


Significance of newly released research, harvesting and tree breeding research and research into alternative species.

Work Programme Details

Research covers all issues of importance to forest growers as prioritised by the Science and Innovation Strategy. It will inform, and be informed by, the work of all the respective FOA and FFA committees.

Some non-levy funded work will also be managed under contract through the Forest Research Committee (e.g. Steepland Harvesting).

The research projects recommended for levy funding by the interim R&D Committee and subsequently endorsed by the FOA, FFA and the Levy Establishment Boards are as follows:

More intensive management is required to ensure forestry remains profitable and competitive for land in NZ. Demonstrating forest management practices are sustainable is a prerequisite for freedom to operate and access to many markets. Research has focused on short- and long-term field trials to quantify the effects of forest management practices on long-term site productivity. Doubling productivity, the target of the Science and Innovation Strategy, in a sustainable way, requires new research approaches such as novel biological agents to promote plant growth. It will also require manipulation of sites to increase carrying capacity, without compromising environmental limits imposed by regulators. Benefits include improved description, achievement of potential yield and feedback to the breeding programme.

Phytophthoras are considered a growing threat to the plantation forest industry as well as to New Zealand's native forests and urban trees. The industry have learned through experience, both international, and nationally, that there is a need to be much more pro-active preparing for new incursions, or from problems caused by species of Phytophthora already present in New Zealand. P. multivora and P. cactorum fit into the latter category and there is particular concern about the problems these particular pathogens might cause to forestry, amenity and horticultural species. Radiata pine, kauri and apple will be used as model hosts.

The objectives of the research are to take a systems biology approach to understanding tree responses to pathogen attack in which host-pathogen interactions are assessed concurrently at the biochemical, genetic and disease expression level and to improve plant breeding, development of diagnostic tools, evaluation of chemically induced responses and establish a core understanding of host defence/ pathogenicity mechanisms associated with Phytophthora infection.

The benefits are to develop improved genetic tolerance to phytophthora disease, a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of Phytophthora infection, selection for broad resistance to Phytophthora infection and an improved resilience of NZ forest estates to new Phytophthora biosecurity threats.

Science programme to understand and mitigate the effects of Red Needle Cast (RNC) on radiata pine and to underpin the Forest Biosecurity programme. Objectives include maintenance and improvement of forest health, provision of the science underpinning forest biosecurity work and an improved understanding of RNC including mitigation options

The Diversified Species Research Theme focuses on plantation forest species other than Radiata Pine that are or have the potential to be grown successfully on a commercial scale. Separate working groups oversee research programmes on Eucalypt species, Douglas fir, Californian Redwoods, Cypress species and Indigenous species.

Research work in each of the species groups includes genetics, silviculture, nutrition and investigation of wood properties and their relationship to product development. Long-term trials to monitor growth and the effects of genetics, management and environmental factors on yield and quality are key components of the diverse species programmes.

Key outputs include genetic improvement of D-fir, cypress and eucalypt species. Improvement in forest health for D-fir and E nitens and wood quality improvement for D-fir thinning. This research will also provide a Decision Support System to match species to sites for new forests or replanting.

The fire research programme is managed through the National Rural Fire Authority. The programme applies research themes and outcomes from high fire prone countries in a New Zealand context. The contribution from forest owners is used in conjunction with separate contributions from NRFA, local government, Defence and Department of Conservation targeting vegetation fire. Benefits include enhanced firefighter safety, improved understanding of fire behaviour, safe and effective use of fire as a land management tool and the ability to deploy effective suppression resources

  • Science & Innovation Strategy

A comprehensive update of the existing S & I strategy to reflect the change to a levy and the outcome of recent funding bids was undertaken and finalised late 2015. You can view the latest strategy here (.pdf 549 KB)