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Harvest research vital to industry-wide R&D








11 June 2008


Harvest research vital to industry-wide R&D

Future Forests Research Ltd, the industry-backed research management organisation created by New Zealand forest owners and management companies, has begun a joint forest industry research programme designed to reduce harvesting costs and make harvesting on steeper slopes more efficient and economic.

FFR Chief Executive Russell Dale said the company had identified harvesting as one of its key research themes because of the potential benefits to member companies, the forestry sector, the New Zealand economy and the environment.

“The industry has not had a formal harvesting R&D programme since 1996,” he said. “In creating FFR to drive and manage forestry research on behalf of the industry, we recognised the importance of harvesting in the forestry value chain, and we have commenced a research  programme.”

Member-funded research has begun with the completion of a review of data collection tools to monitor harvesting productivity, and another review is under way of human factors and ergonomics research that has been carried out  in New Zealand and overseas.

Work is also under way on a supply chain cost benchmarking project, and overseas specialists will assist FFR to further develop a harvesting research strategy in July.

Mr Dale said harvesting costs were becoming an increasingly important component of the forestry value chain.

“In the next 10 years the annual harvest could increase by almost 50% to over 30 million cubic metres. An increasing proportion of that timber will come from steeper slopes, as plantings on these slopes come to maturity.

“A cost reduction of 50c to $1 per cubic metre adds between $15 and $30 million a year to net returns, with substantial national and regional economic benefits.

“Consistent, research-backed innovation and process improvement in harvesting, as well as in the more traditional tree species fields where research has concentrated in recent years, have real potential to produce significant national environmental and economic benefits.”



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