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Forest research in the levy environment

Patrick Milne, New Zealand Tree Grower May 2015.

The forest commodity levy of 27 cents a tonne of harvested wood has been collected since the beginning of 2014. In the first year approximately three million dollars or half the levy funds were allocated in support of six forest research programmes as follows −

  • Growing confidence in future forests $1,600,000
  • Diverse species $300,000
  • Phytophthora research $400,000
  • Bio protection $300,000
  • Foliar diseases $300,000
  • Fire research $60,000

This is not the total funding for these programmes, it is only the money which comes from the levy.All the programmes have significant additional funding allocated to them, mostly from the government. This funding and the work programmes are monitored by the Forest Research Committee chaired by David Balfour from Timberlands.The committee has industry and Scion representation and meets quarterly to review research progress.

It is my intention at this stage to use this article to introduce and briefly describe the research programmes and then in subsequent Tree Grower articles, cover each of the programmes in more depth. These programmes have been under way for more than a year and are now starting to produce new and interesting results.

The programmes

The programme Growing Confidence in Future Forests is the largest and is aimed at improving the productivity of radiata pine in a sustainable manner. It has the objective of doubling the biological productivity of radiata pine forests and at the same time ensuring that management intensification is achieved in an environmentally sustainable manner. The programme is led by Peter Clinton and John Moore from Scion.

The Diverse Species funds are split between Scion who get $250,000 and the remainder to the School of Forestry. The Scion component of this funding is aimed at maintaining baseline programmes for
the main alternative species, namely Douglas fir, the cypresses along with Eucalyptus regnans, E. fastigata and E. nitens. The School of Forestry funding is principally contributing to research in support of the Dryland Forest Initiative. The Scion component is led by Heidi Dungey and the School of Forestry by Bruce Manley.

The Phytophthora programme is new and is aimed at developing technology to enhance our understanding and management of Phytophthora. The programme is led by Nari Williams from Scion. The Bio Protection and Foliar Diseases programmes are both associated with forest health research.Together, they look at understanding and mitigating the effects of red needle cast on radiata pine and supporting forest bio-security work.This is a joint initiative between the Lincoln Bio- Protection Centre and Scion.The Lincoln component is led by Robert Hill with Lindsay Bulman leading for Scion.

The Fire Protection programme has the objective of developing the science and technology to protect life and property. Benefits of the programme will include an improved understanding of fire behaviour, enhanced fire fighter safety along with the safe and effective use of fire as a land management tool.The programme is led by Richard Parker from Scion.
Research is often cited as being critical to the continued success of the forest growing industry. It is hoped that this forest levy supported research programme will ensure continued success and unlock the potential of this exciting industry.

Patrick Milne is a member of the Forest Research Committee monitoring levy funded research.


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