22 May 2015

More funding for forestry research

10:45 am on 22 May 2015

New funding will allow long overdue research into alternatives to radiata pine, the head of the Farm Forestry Association says.

Forestry is the country's third biggest export earner, but the Government and forest industry say a strong reliance on a single species, radiata pine, makes New Zealand vulnerable.

pine trees

Photo: AFP / Source

Both are investing $5 million over seven years to research eucalyptus, Douglas fir and cypress trees, their growing environments, products, and potential new export markets.

Farm Forestry Association president Dean Satchell said until now there had been very little research on alternative species to radiata pine.

"The focus has been on radiata pine for around 50 years and the other species have had a long history of neglect.

"New opportunities are opening for these species in terms of market opportunities and we now have a catch up game to make sure we can grow them well and have a good quality product to market."

Mr Satchell said growing a range of different tree species on a wider scale would be beneficial to New Zealand.

"Solid timber imports are worth around $500 million a year at the moment: those are mostly hard woods and some durable soft woods. These are opportunities that obviously radiata doesn't fill that we can now start marketing our speciality timbers into.

"For example, redwood is a very good cladding; eucalyptus is a very fine floor and decking timbers; and these are opportunities that radiata can't fill."