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Research funding underlines value of forests

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


14 July 2008

 

Research funding underlines value of forests

Future Forests Research (FFR) has welcomed Government support for forestry research in the allocation of contestable research funding to key areas of forest diversity, productivity enhancement and sustainability.

The Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST) announced today that three proposals involving FFR have gained support in the latest funding allocation rounds. FRST has allocated a total of $21 million over the next five years.

Funding of approximately $10 million will support research looking at ways to get improved productivity from plantation forestry in the face of fierce international competition, to match the increasingly important environmental benefits.

A second research stream will receive approximately $3 million to continue earlier work on managing weeds, in collaboration with the pastoral farming sector. Minimising herbicide use and ultimately finding effective alternatives to herbicides are key aims of this research work.  Weed control is an important factor in improving early tree growth and survival.

The third funding stream will receive $8 million to support research to develop new forests and new species to complement and strengthen forestry in New Zealand. “These other species have potential to create new processing options and market opportunities in high value products and energy.” FFR Chief Executive Russell Dale said.  “There is also potential for native species to play a greater role in long term sustainable wood production and other values.”

Russell Dale said the funding recognised the importance of forestry to New Zealand, with an annual economic benefit of $6.5 billion, exports of $3.2 billion and growing environmental benefits through improved water quality, reduced soil loss and sequestration of carbon in line with the Kyoto Protocol.

“These three areas of research have been selected as high priority issues by the forest industry and Scion research institute for the future of forestry in New Zealand,” Russell Dale said. “Forestry is unique in combining environmental and social benefits with strong economic drivers. It is one of the big hopes for the future.

“Investing in research to improve the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of New Zealand forestry has a high public good component as well as helping to enhance the international competitiveness of the industry,” he said.

He said FFR, representing virtually all of the forest growers in New Zealand as well as regional councils and service providers, has made a long-term commitment to this research. It is contributing funding to all the research streams on behalf of its members and will play a major part in disseminating the research findings.

“FRST has recognised the importance of forestry on both economic and environmental grounds, and has enabled FFR to use industry research funding more effectively so that both the industry and New Zealand gain maximum benefit,” he said.

FFR, through its research theme groups, would now play a key part in managing the research on behalf of members and in conjunction with Scion and other research organisations involved.

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