The Crown forestry research institute Scion has been given about $6 million for the next four years to develop alternative quarantine treatments to methyl bromide for wood exports.
Jointly funded by government and industry, the research programme will be led by Scion with involvement from Canterbury University and Plant and Food Research.
The research leader for entomology in Scion's forest protection group, Steve Pawson, says there has been an international push to phase out the use of methyl bromide because it is an ozone-depleting gas.
He says the last main use of it is as a pre-shipment or quarantine treatment.
Dr Pawson says the timber industry currently applies fumigant treatments irrespective of the actual risk of pest infestation and the research will quantify that risk for wood products throughout the year.
It will also look at non-fumigant treatments such as hot and cold sterilisation and whether there are ways of making pest-control fumigants more effective.
Dr Pawson says the investment into that area of research is unprecedented.