FFR Releases First Science Report

Research on increasing the value and quality of plantation grown trees, reducing costs and maximising the environmental benefits of forestry feature in the first science report from Future Forests Research.

Future Forests Research (FFR) was established by the forest industry in 2007 to strengthen forestry and increase returns to New Zealand and forest owners through partnerships between growers, scientists and government.

FFR uses industry and government funding to focus research under four themes, linked by key strategies of productivity, quality and sustainability.

The 2009 Annual Science Report sets out a broad range of research under way in each theme.

Radiata Management, covering New Zealand’s largest tree crop, reports on key soil properties affecting the growth of radiata pine, and work to help growers to choose forest sites and management systems for maximum production and quality.

The Radiata Management theme report also outlines a new forest inventory system, called TimberLine, that uses satellite imagery and advanced sampling and statistical methods to more accurately assess the number of trees and amount of timber in a forest before harvesting.

The Diversified Species theme report outlines a three-year trial indicating that Douglas fir framing timber is structurally stronger than Radiata pine in leaky buildings, and reports on work to improve growers confidence in high value Eucalypts, Redwoods and Cypresses.

The report also raises potential for native species, particularly totara and kauri, to be grown in plantation forests.

FFR also reports on work under the Environment and Social theme to value the full costs and benefits of the contributions that commercial forests make to the environment – an important factor in decision-making about land use.

A newly developed model to simulate economic effects of various carbon trading schemes is aimed at helping forest owners to make land use and forest management decisions to maximise returns, and helping policy makers to assess the possible effects of regulations on land use, management and the amount of carbon sequestered by growing trees.

The fourth theme, Harvesting and Logistics, focuses on research aimed at reducing steep country harvesting costs by $10 per tonne and improving the value of harvested timber by $4 per tonne.

Logging on steep country, forecast to rise from 40% to 60% of forestry production, is expensive and hazardous under current methods. Research looks at increased mechanisation and technology, human factors and a new scheme to enable industry members of FFR to measure their harvesting practices against industry benchmarks for cost and productivity.

Chief Executive Russell Dale said in releasing the first Annual Science Report that FFR had secured significant long-term funding support from the government and from industry to strengthen the partnership between growers, scientists and government to drive and implement research that will benefit both the industry and New Zealand.

“We have government funding approved until 2013, with the exception of harvesting research,” he said.

“A great deal of research is starting to come out of the programme.”

FFR works with Scion Crown Research Institute as the key research provider, and with other research organisations to coordinate and fund research under its four themes.

For more information contact: www.ffr.co.nz to obtain a copy of the science report.

Russell Dale, Chief Executive, FFR, phone 0274 938 061