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Tree geneticists go to prison

Tree geneticists go to prison

Forest Research and Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE) today announced the signing of a six year, multi-million dollar agreement to develop advanced genetic planting stock for forest growers throughout New Zealand.

This unique partnership between a Crown Research Institute and the Department of Corrections signals the breaking out of traditional government-owned organisations into large scale, collaborative commercial activities.

The long-term relationship combines Forest Research's world-leading expertise in tree breeding, plant propagation and nursery systems with CIE's land management experience to produce high quality plant material for forest nurseries.

Forest Research’s Portfolio Manager for Future Forests, Dr Tom Richardson describes this as a significant step in closing the gap between the science lab and the forest grower.

"Forest Research's tree breeding and propagation scientists have been at the forefront in developing improved forest trees for over 40 years. This expertise has historically been delivered solely as services to others,” says Dr Richardson.

“Only recently have we produced small quantities of specialty tree stocks under our own banner. While consulting services will remain an important part of our overall activities, this new relationship with CIE is an important step towards leveraging our expertise in science to produce products.”

As the farm and forest land management arm of the Corrections Department, CIE is seen as an ideal partner for Forest Research.

“They have a proven track record in land management and are renowned for their efficient farming and forestry systems. We have total confidence in their ability to produce high-quality plant material which will deliver the potential of the Forest Research genetics.”

Richardson says CIE also has the land required to expand material from the programme and to field-test the next wave of new products.

CIE's Primary Sector Manager Scott Gretton says the organisation appreciates being recognised for the skills, experience and resources they can offer. It is positive that the Department of Corrections is now in the media spotlight for all the right reasons.

"As relative newcomers to the commercial forestry propagation scene, we are excited about this opportunity to work with a leading science organisation. This will enable us to be directly involved in new technologies and provide leading edge training to inmates.

“Our joint market analysis and numerous interviews with existing independent forest nurseries have convinced us that the Forest Research - CIE pairing will be very well received.”


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