What's New in Research? - December 2015

The biggest research programme in the Forest Growers Levy Trust research portfolio is the Growing Confidence in Forestry’s Future (GCFF) programme. Beginning in October 2013 the seven year programme aims to raise the profitability of current and future Radiata pine forests in New Zealand.

Highlights of this large and ambitious programme were presented to the annual forest grower’s research conference held in Nelson in October 2015. Work to assess the current and potential productivity of forests across the country has enabled those areas growing at less than their potential productivity to be identified. These productivity gap maps were presented at the conference and will be made more widely available in 2016. Using process based growth models researchers are able to help explain why a site is not meeting its potential productivity. There is no one single answer but the research has shown that in many areas silvicultural regimes have resulted in stockings that are less than the optimal needed to maximise productivity of the site.

To assess the maximum level of productivity of Radiata pine a new series of long term “Accelerator Trials” are being established with the first being established in southern Kaingaroa during the past winter. These trials will help us to understand how to achieve the goal of doubling productivity of future forests and the impact on wood quality and sustainability. Once the sites of the trials are characterised, future treatment options to enhance productivity will be selected.

The conference also heard of the work being done to put a value on the ecosystem services provided by forests. There is an increasing focus on these in regional and national land use policy development and the tools being developed in this programme will help the industry promote the wider benefits of forests to society and support more positive policy settings for forestry.

Growing Confidence in Forestry’s Future (GCFF) programme