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Applications for money from the Forest Growers Levy and Te Uru Rakau for projects in 2024

Julian Bateson, New Zealand Tree Grower November 2023.

It seems only a short time ago that I last wrote an article about grant projects for small-scale forestry. If you check the May Tree Grower, you will see it is only half a year, so why does the process never seem to stop? That is because it never stops. While grant projects are being worked on during this year, applications for work in 2024 had to be contemplated, planned and completed by August this year.

 The rules have changed slightly due to an expected reduction of levy income as log exports slow.The usual deadline for applications to the Forest Growers Levy Board has remained at 31 August. However, any projects in the research category will be assessed differently.

Instead of the standard application form, an outline expression of interest has been required and then all the projects will be assessed on their various merits from a significantly reduced amount of money.

The table below, in no special order, along with the project summaries following the table, are grants which the NZFFA have applied for separately or jointly with others.The results will be announced in December.

The single project involving Te Uru Rakau is being assessed with results expected soon.There are two other projects we are progressing which involve the Industry Transformation Plan and Te Uru Rakau but the details are yet to be finalised. However, the total applied for already, as shown in the table is almost $800,000 and although we do not expect that every grant requested will be approved, we are hopeful that many will. Of course, the more we get, the more work the NZFFA will have to do.

Creating forestry secondary school resources

This project aims to incorporate past and current resources to present simple forestry statistics, forestry practices and knowledge for secondary teachers and students to use in their classrooms. Many other primary sectors have resources available, either as hard copies or online, with data about their sector and information which is simple and aimed at the classroom. However, the last set of resources developed by the forestry sector for this purpose was in the early 1990s, around 30 years ago.

The aim of these resources is to demystify forestry practices and provide information on statistics, wood use, markets and forestry systems in a simple format.They will be easy to update and with basic information which is at a level that teachers and students can incorporate into current subjects such as mathematics, geography, science and agricultural studies.

Feasibility of airships as an alternative for forest harvesting

Modern airships can provide access to otherwise inaccessible land areas. An airship is a lighter-than-air craft which can navigate through the air under its own power. It can be powered by electricity, solar-powered motors or a variety of other fuels and may be capable of remote operation. It is a technology, which if used in harvesting, could significantly reduce roading and transport costs, improve environmental effects and perhaps even make continuous cover forestry profitable.

Benefits also exist for disaster response and recovery. There may well be other uses as renewed international interest in airship design have led to improved safety and carbon-neutral operation.The aim of the project is to assess international developments in the use of airships, check technical and economic limits of such operations in New Zealand and to provide a scope of work with

Adding value with repurposed biomass

This project will investigate the feasibility of developing a forest biomass heat recovery system appropriate for small-scale forests, to generate additional revenues and contribute to biofuel supplies. It will trial small-scale, portable incineration systems at farm forests in the greater Wellington region.The project will also explore how these systems may be used to generate sufficient heat to produce electricity for complementary on-site equipment such as a portable pellet mill with biochar as a by-product.

This coupling of small-scale portable technology could increase the recovery and use of biomass, help with site maintenance and provide new income from the growing demand for renewable energy.The project is consistent with the aims of the Forest Industry Transformation Plan and the government’s intention to invest in biomass forestry and research to promote the recovery of woody residue and forestry slash.

Poplar timber evaluation

This project will bring together and publish information on timber yield and quality for identified cultivars of poplar grown in New Zealand. Information will be obtained from research trial plots, milling poplar cultivars of known age and from case studies from sawmillers. It will encourage land owners to grow poplar for timber as well as for soil stabilisation, shelter, carbon storage and help meet the targets of the Industry Transformation Plan.

The aim is to identify the status of a poplar as an alternative timber.The project results are expected to contribute to an increase in poplar planting on farms and increase the supply of poplar timber.

Working in partnership with Te Uru Rakau – NZ Forest Service

The series of forestry extension workshops funded by Te Uru Rakau – NZ Forest Service and run by the NZFFA for sheep and beef farmers earlier this year was a success. We are discussing further work with Te Uru Rakau about specific projects that will help it meet its objectives in forestry promotion, education and extension.

These new projects are currently only in outline, but they will be covered by an annual work programme that falls under a draft Memorandum of Understanding between the parties.This application is for co-funding to assist with the annual programme through 2024.

Improving yields of Abies grandis

Abies grandis might be a good commercial substitute for radiata pine should the latter ever succumb to pathogens.  A. grandis in New Zealand appears to be as productive as radiata pine, although it is hard to say if it will perform as well everywhere. Few stands were ever planted, and a research project in 2023 collected seed from mature stands in Hanmer and Gwavas for nursery trials to see if it could be successfully propagated and planted more widely.

These trials revealed that once the seedlings had germinated, they sulked for a year after being moved from the germination trays to their nursery pots. Fortunately, Appleton’s nursery in Wakefield has now employed a manager from Oregon with experience in successfully growing A. grandis from seed. She will conduct further trials aimed at improving survival and speeding up the process, with further seed collection planned.

Building on the results of attending Mystery Creek

The NZFFA has attended the Forestry Hub at Mystery Creek for the past two years and almost certainly will do the same in 2024. Staff have been monitoring attendance in the Forestry Hub and found it has been significant and useful for communicating with the farming audience, and helping restore forestry’s social licence to operate. By investing in these events, the NZFFA now has a range of portable displays, a suite of relevant leaflets and experience in providing useful information at agricultural shows.

It makes sense to use these materials and skills more than just once a year.There are at least five medium to large agricultural shows around New Zealand which the NZFFA could attend and at which we could get the message across to significantly encourage more trees on farms including alternative species and radiata pine woodlots.

Evaluation of historic eucalypt stringybark trials

In 2004 and 2005 the Eucalypt Action Group organised a series of trials across the country to determine the survival of a range of stringybark eucalypt species under different conditions.These trials were partly funded using the Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund, and survival data was collected three years after planting. Subsequently growth rate measurements were collected at nine years and growth rate performance maps were produced for those species with the most complete data.

This proposed project will obtain the data from the surviving trials from ages 19 to 20 for further analysis. All the stringybark eucalypts produce naturally durable wood over a range of durability classes.

Assess and select canker-resistant cypress hybrids

This application is for work to continue the process begun in 2023 of assessing a range of canker-resistant cypress hybrids from Scion trials planted in 2017.This involves selecting the 100 most promising candidates in terms of growth and form, taking cuttings and establishing stool beds at two locations for their mass propagation.

These will give the opportunity for reproduction at forestry scale when the selections are later refined by timber testing. Cypress is a high value species that may be planted at scale if growers are assured of the trees’ productivity.

Evaluation of elite cypress clones

Cypress clones developed by Scion and already selected for their growth, form, vigour and canker resistance will be investigated for their timber properties, and whether those vary across two trial sites with different climates. They will be tested for heartwood content, heartwood colour, timber stiffness, strength and durability.The project began in 2023 but essential silviculture in the trial plots has added to costs and delayed the original programme.

Measuring Permanent Sample Plots

Scion is aware that there are nearly 700 Permanent Sample Plots for alternative and contingency species around New Zealand. Of these, nearly 500 have not been measured in the last 10 years.With Forest Growers Levy funding in 2022 and again in 2023, the NZFFA has been working on a programme of re-measurement so that the relevant growth models and yield tables can be brought up to date.This project is for assistance to

re-measure the balance of the Permanent Sample Plots, to establish a number of additional plots in suitable locations and to commission Scion to record and maintain the data.

The redesign of forest systems

The aim of the project is to provide confidence in the future redesign of forest systems particularly their role in mitigating climate change effects.This project will help form a working group to consult across a diverse expert group.This will determine who the experts are and the availability and quality of evidence of main plantation species which provide resilience, such as rainfall interception, reduction in erosion and wind stability.

A facilitated workshop will be organised to gather expert opinion and help with visits to appropriate field sites for practical input and local knowledge.The results will be recommendations on knowledge gaps in the short term and a plan to collect appropriate information for the long term.

Promoting Treefarmer

Treefarmer was developed over the last four years with the aim of improving the afforestation and harvesting experience of small-scale forest growers. It achieves this by raising the grower’s awareness of the issues, costs, risks and opportunities they will encounter with tree planting and harvesting on their property.

Use of Treefarmer is monitored with current usage by New Zealand users averaging around 30 a month. While this is steady use, it needs to improve if we are to reach the intended audience of over 12,000 small-scale growers.

This project will apply resources to promoting and demonstrating Treefarmer to gain greater uptake and benefit. It will include developing publicity material, updating support material such as a user manual and tutorial as well as training demonstrators at extension workshops and field days

Field day options for other species

Feedback from the ‘Opportunities with Trees’ workshops run in May and June 2023 showed that attendees wanted more information about alternative species.

To further encourage land owners to plant trees, the NZFFA aims to contract to Te Uru Rakau – NZ Forest Service to run a number of field days around the country focussing on appropriate species choice, establishment and performance.

The NZFFA will run 20 field days for groups of up to 30 people between October 2023 and June 2024.

Each field day will focus on tree species which have proved successful in that region, and what that species needs in terms of location establishment, weed and pest control and management.


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