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New R&D Management Structure Begins

With the introduction of the new forest growers levy on 1 January 2014 changes to the way industry R&D in the forest growing area were signalled in a recent update.

On 1 April 2014 responsibility for managing forest growing research that is funded by the new forest growing levy, passed to FOA (Forest Owners Association) who have employed a full time R&D Manager based in Rotorua. A joint FOA/FFA (Farm Forestry Association) R&D Committee will provide strategic direction and will make recommendations on how the research component of the levy is allocated. It will then oversee the delivery of that research to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved. Each research programme will have a Technical Committee that will work with the researchers to shape the programme, review progress and where necessary make recommendations on programme changes. Initially there will be four Technical Committees covering Forest Productivity, Diverse Species, Forest Biosecurity, and Fire Research which are being part funded by the new levy.

In addition to these programmes, there are Harvesting and Weed research programmes that the Levy Trust Board have not been able to fund and these programmes are continuing with industry funding support. These programmes will be managed through the FOA Rotorua office to ensure there is coordination and alignment of the various programmes.

Future Forests Research will now focus on the steep land harvesting research programme with a small Board of three, representing investors, making key commercial decisions including oversight of a management contract with FOA. The various legal steps to make these changes are currently be worked through with FFR Members.

Introduction of the levy is a significant change event for our industry and the transition from voluntary funding to levy funded research is going very smoothly. A new Research Committee is in place and Technical Committees for each programme have been appointed. The new six year programmes that were funded by MBIE last year, Radiata Productivity and Phytophthora diseases are well underway with a lot of hard work by Scion and industry people to finalise programmes, deliver milestones and budgets. New reporting and payment processes are in place. The next priority will be ensuring that there are good processes to communicate with industry stakeholders to ensure end users are aware of the programmes, their outputs and the opportunities these present for forest owners.