Forest Growers Research Update – May 2019





Forest Growers Conference

15th & 16th October 2019
Te Papa, Wellington




May 2019
Forest Growers Research Update
Forest Growers Research (FGR) is the New Zealand forest growing industry’s research manager. Our aim is to ensure that the research funded by the forest growing levy, by industry members, and other partners, is well focused, strategic and aligned with industry priorities. Decisions on allocation of funding are made by the Forest Growers Levy Trust on the advice of the Forest Research Committee and the Forest Growers Levy Advisory Council.
A new science innovation strategy

Last year, we started working with research and industry colleagues to develop a new long-term science innovation strategy out to 2035. This aligns with the forest growers ‘Forestry Roadmap for Aotearoa New Zealand’ released recently. The strategy aims to ensure science and innovation underpin forest growing as an attractive investment proposition. The strategy has three core themes of:

  1. Sustainable profitability for existing commercial forests
  2. Defending and future proofing the sector
  3. Emerging species and alternative forestry systems.

We will be discussing the draft strategy with a wider range of stakeholders over the next few months.

Research funding applications submittedThe first few months of 2019 have been extremely busy:  our work has focused on pulling together a whole new raft of research proposals and associated funding applications. The proposals, worth a total of $116 million, described detailed research programmes in a wide range of topics up to seven years into the future.

The new applications are needed because several major FGR research programmes, including Steepland Harvesting, Growing Confidence in Forestry’s Future (GCFF), Healthy Trees, Healthy Forests (HTHF), Needle Diseases and the Urban Battlefield, have either ended or are coming to a close later this year. We want to move into the next research phase as smoothly as possible, ensuring that we maintain momentum and our world-renowned research capability is retained.

The following applications for funding have been submitted:

Project Proposed Scale and Duration Main Research Providers
Innovative harvesting systems – Forestry work in the modern age $29.36 million; seven years
Aims to improve safety and efficiency of extraction and downstream log supply value chain through automation, robotics and integrated data management
Forest owners, forest engineering companies,
Scion and technology developers
Resilient Forests: Balancing long-run socio-economic benefits and risks in an uncertain future $36 million; five  years
Builds on the learnings from the GCFF and HTHF and aims to deliver tools for forest owners to evaluate uncertainty and risk when making long term management decisions.
Innovative breeding technologies: Automated tissue culture $7million ; 7 years
Aims to significantly reduce the deployment time and cost for improved genetic material and make clonal forestry commercially viable for forest growers.
Radiata Pine Breeding Company
Georgia Institute of Technology
Improving landslide and slash risk management $8.8 million; four years
Response to severe landslide/debris flow events. Aims to improve identification  of high risk areas
Manaki Whenua Landcare Research
‘Pikoura of Protection’ – Integrated plant biosecurity for primary sectors and conservation lands’ $19.5 million; five years
Builds on the very successful Urban Battlefield programme with aim of improving pathogen detection and through remote sensing technologies.
Plant and Food Research
International collaborators
Rethinking safety by capturing and enhancing expert intuition $15.5 million; five years
Novel research to identify behavioural characteristics of people who can work safely and new training options using virtual reality technology
Otago University School of Medicine
Other international collaborators

In all the above, the research will be part-funded by the Forest Growers Levy Trust, with other key sources of funding including MBIE, MPI and our industry partners.

The very good news is that the ‘Innovative Harvesting Systems – Forestry work in the modern age’ programme is already underway. This project will be managed by FGR’s Keith Raymond. Early work involves agreements with technology partners identifying forest owner and contractor partners for each project and development of work plans.  A programme steering group is currently being formed to guide the programme.

Comment from Russell

Anyone who has been involved in working up research funding applications – large or small – will appreciate how much time and effort goes into them. There is a lengthy and often painstaking process between the creative phase of formulating research ideas and the point at which an application is ready to be submitted.

So a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has been involved in pulling together these applications.  We will keep our fingers crossed that all of them are received favourably by the various funding bodies. For those projects given the green light, the next stage will involve feedback followed by negotiations over the details of exactly what is done, by who, and when. .

The New Zealand forest industry is in excellent heart at present; this gives me confidence that forest owners will vote to continue paying the levy on harvested products. In turn, this means we can plan long-term, and maintain a strong, innovative research sector, undertaking work that is closely linked with the industry’s needs and will keep us at the forefront of sustainable timber production.

Russell Dale
Research Manager

LinkedinTel: (07) 921 1883