The Inaugural Future Forests Research Awards

Four new science prizes have been awarded to researchers and technical specialists in the forestry industry.

The inaugural Future Forests Research Awards were presented at a function in Wellington last night (18 August) by Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The awards have been introduced by Future Forests Research (FFR) to recognise research in three key areas that underpin FFR’s success – engagement and communication with industry, international science quality and adding value to the forestry sector.
Future Forests Research, established in 2007, is a partnership between forest industry organisations and the Crown Research Institute Scion to fund, organise and disseminate forestry research for the benefit of the wider New Zealand forestry sector.
FFR brings together industry funding for research and provides a channel for matching public funding, to ensure research is relevant to industry needs, is managed effectively and results are disseminated to member organisations for maximum value.
FFR Chief Executive Russell Dale said the introduction of the science awards reflected the company’s development over the past four years. “Now that we have established a track record of sound, relevant research and a strong network to disseminate the findings to members, it is timely to recognise some of those who are making major contributions,” he said.
Scion’s General Manager for Forest Science, Dr Brian Richardson, says it is very positive for the forestry sector to be recognising the value of science in this way.
“Most forest management practices are influenced by science that has gone on behind the scenes for decades. The FFR awards are a great way to acknowledge the importance of this contribution,” he says.
“All of the award recipients are highly committed to forestry and work hard for the benefit of the sector.”
Recipients of the inaugural awards are:
Communication and sector engagement: Rien Visser, University of Canterbury
Rien has been an enthusiastic and passionate contributor to the FFR Harvesting Theme, supported by Government’s Primary Growth Partnership, with work that aims to reduce the cost and improve the safety of harvesting on steep terrain. Rien has established an industry-wide benchmarking of harvesting operations that is now beginning to provide valuable information on harvesting productivity.
Enhancing sector value: Michael Watt and Carol Rolando, Scion
Michael and Carol’s research has enabled the forest industry to continue weed control in newly planted forests, using chemicals that have not been viewed favourably by international accreditation agencies. The work that has been done to understand the fate of the chemicals after application and to find alternative chemical formulations that are more benign in the environment has been of significant value to the forest industry. Without these chemicals, commercial plantation forestry would not be viable on many sites in New Zealand.

Science of International Quality: Mark Kimberley, Scion

Mark has undertaken ground-breaking research to develop new techniques for modelling the growth of forests and, in particular, a new growth index that predicts the productivity of radiata pine across New Zealand. This single index has replaced a series of regional growth models and is a major step forward for the forest industry. Mark has published this work in international journals and it is considered to be world leading research.
Research Participation and Uptake: Dave Lowry, Hancock Forest Management
Dave Lowry, Technical Manager of Hancock Forest Management, is an industry representative on the technical steering teams of both the Radiata and Diverse species themes of FFR as well as other industry research bodies. Dave participates fully to ensure research is relevant and well targeted and also in reviewing technical outputs from the research programmes. Industry adoption and use of research results is vital to ensure that the industry and New Zealand gain maximum benefit from spending on research.
Most large forestry industry companies and many mid-sized and smaller organisations are members of Future Forests Research Ltd, as are many regional councils and other authorities with interests in forestry-related environmental and social issues.
Forestry is a major contributor to New Zealand, with exports of $4.4 billion in the year to March 2011, direct employment of more than 17,600 people in forestry and first-stage processing, and significant environmental and social benefits.
For more information on the awards, contact:
FFR Chief Executive Russell Dale, phone 0274-938-061, email