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UC academic wins award for forestry research

UC academic wins award for forestry research

A University of Canterbury academic has been recognised for his important contribution to the forestry industry, winning the award for his international quality science research at the 2016 Forest Science Awards.

At the Awards dinner held in Napier last week, University of Canterbury Forestry Professor Euan Mason was recognised for the innovation he is bringing to the New Zealand Forestry sector, receiving the science of international quality award for his work, which has been widely published in international journals.

Forest Owners Association research manager Russell Dale says the science awards were initiated in 2011 to recognise the extremely important contributions scientists and innovators make to the profitability and sustainability of forestry.

“With levy funding assistance Euan Mason is working with a group of New Zealand companies to apply growth modelling techniques to New Zealand forests. His work has the potential to result in a step change in forest management and profitability,” Dale says.

“In forest growing, everything we do is underpinned by research and successful innovation. We benefit today from the research investments made by both government and industry in the past. Since 2014, when a commodity levy on logs was introduced, I’m pleased to say research investment has increased. By innovating and investing in our future, we will stay ahead of the competition and all things being equal, forest owners will prosper and New Zealand as a country will reap many rewards,” Dale says.

Prof Mason began working on bridging the gap between eco-physiology and statistical models of forest growth and yield, which foresters commonly use, about 15 years ago.

“For the last year, my team and I have been creating geographical information system layers predicting forest production and environmental constraints on production in small parcels of land spaced at 15 metres in large plantation forest estates in New Zealand. These layers take into account local climatic conditions, soils, slope and aspect, and we can predict not just how rapidly trees can grow, but why they can grow at any particular rate in any particular place,” Prof Mason says.

“I created software that simulates trees’ radiation-use efficiency in response to environmental conditions across years on a monthly time step. For one estate, for example, we ran it for 10 years at 9.8 million points in the landscape.”

Prof Mason’s work involves forestry companies, academics and postgraduate students in New Zealand, Sweden, Chile, and Uruguay. 

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