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UC Forestry part of new multi-million forestry research

UC Forestry part of new multi-million forestry industry research

The University of Canterbury is part of a new $14 million, seven year collaborative research effort aimed at maximising the value and export earnings of the forestry industry.

The Government recently announced it will invest the research funding in the effort, to be matched dollar for dollar by the forestry industry. The programme will be led by industry-operated entity Future Forests Research, in collaboration with Scion, UC, and the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative. The Government funding is provided through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Research Partnerships Programme. Industry fiunding is being provided by Forest Growers Levy Trust and a number of leading forestry companies and Farm Forestry Association.

The collaborative programme is in addition to nearly $500,000 funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund announced in April, for UC to research how to minimise growth strain in eucalypts, to improve timber quality and simplify processing.

Forestry is New Zealand's third largest export earner – behind dairy and meat, contributing around $5 billion to our exports. The funding aims to strengthen ties between research organisations and the industry to produce excellent research driven by industry needs.

UC’s research will focus on developing higher value, better performing wood products from naturally durable eucalyptus that provide an alternative to the radiata pine reducing reliance on pine and less vulnerable to market fluctuations, as well as pests and diseases. It aims to tap into global demand for higher value specialty wood products while maintaining a strong focus on sustainability.

UC Forestry’s Dr Clemens Altaner said UC was fortunate to have both government and industry support for its eucalypt research that aims, initially, to provide much stiffer and more stable wood for the production of laminated veneer lumber when grown on a 10-12 year rotation.

“Previously wood quality has largely been ignored in tree breeding as it has been too difficult and expensive to measure. UC has developed techniques that allow us to treat trees like any agricultural crop and identify ‘elite trees’ within two years in a nursery rather than 10-15 years in a forest. We can also identify trees that have abundant, intensely-coloured heartwood. The research will confirm and apply these results for the good of the industry.

“This means that industry will have trees which not only grow fast but also produce very fine timber, some of which can replace illegally logged tropical timbers, such as rosewood or kwila, and do so sustainably.

“The research should create additional export opportunities by partnering along the entire value chain from nurseries to companies having off-shore parents with a strong presence in key markets such as Japan.”

ends

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