Big changes in R&D management afoot

With the introduction of the new Forest Growing Levy on 1 January 2014 big changes are being made to the way forest growing is funded and organised in New Zealand. The aim is to bring forest growing research under a single management structure to ensure efficient organisation and delivery of research to industry end users.

From 1 April 2014 the functions of Future Forests Research (FFR) will be transferred across to the Forest Owners Association (FOA) and FFR's operations will be wound up. A new R&D Advisory Committee, comprising representatives from FOA and Farm Forestry Association (FFA) has been formed and this committee will oversee industry research activity and make recommendations on the allocation of levy funds for research.

An Interim Levy Trust Board has agreed to provide co-funding for two research programmes currently managed by FFR. These are a large new programme aimed at enhancing forest productivity, which is also supported by Government funding, and a small programme to continue research into commercial species other than Radiata pine, which is not supported by Government funding. From 1 April 2014 responsibility for both these programmes will pass to FOA along with forest health, fire and weeds research.

The important Steepland Harvesting programme will continue to be funded by the current investors in this programme. Whilst levy funds have not been allocated to this programme it is intended that management will be provided by the new R&D management structure. It is likely that a separate legal entity may be required to hold and protect intellectual property and to deal with commercial matters on behalf of investors in this programme.

I have been appointed to manage the R&D functions for FOA and I am pleased to be able to lead the transition from FFR to FOA at a time of significant change in the industry.