Media Release – 28th May 2020

NZ Dryland Forests Initiative secures $539,000 One Billion Trees Partnership funds to scale up plant production

The NZ Dryland Forests Initiative (NZDFI) is pleased to confirm that it has been awarded a grant of $539,000 from Te Uru Rākau’s One Billion Trees Partnership Fund.

The funding will go towards work to accelerate the availability of elite, ground durable hardwood producing Eucalyptus planting stock, with the focus on two species, Eucalyptus bosistoana and E. globoidea.

The NZDFI began work almost 11 years ago and has invested in a region- wide tree breeding and research programme. The improved plants will be available to landowners wishing to plant durable eucalypts from 2021 onwards.

Durable eucalypt hardwood timbers do not require chemical treatment. The timbers have a range of potential applications – for example posts and poles for orchards (kiwifruit, vines and hops) and for organic farms, cross arms for powerlines, furniture, outdoor timber (e.g. high-end decking) and flooring. Also the logs can be peeled to produce high strength veneer for manufacturing laminated veneer lumber (LVL) for large scale wooden buildings. Currently in New Zealand the timber used in many applications is either chemically treated pine or imported hardwood, much of which is from SE Asian and South American rainforests. The NZDFI’s vision is to develop a sustainable New Zealand durable hardwood industry by 2050.

The NZDFI is administered by the Marlborough Research Centre Trust (MRCT) at their Blenheim campus. MRCT Chief Executive, Gerald Hope is delighted with the funding announcement.

“This 1BT funding is another exciting step forward for the NZDFI, which has been building the foundations of a hardwood industry based on genetically improved durable eucalypts for over ten years.

“We know that there is increasing local and global demand for high-stiffness, naturally durable timbers that are not chemically treated – nowhere more so than here in Marlborough, where the long-term disposal of broken CCA-treated posts is an environmental challenge for the wine industry and our local council. And now given the likely long term economic impact from the pandemic, the timing of this funding will provide a new area of growth for the forestry sector and offer new jobs in the years ahead’ 

Proseed NZ Ltd, a Ngāi Tahu subsidiary and NZDFI partner, is based in Amberley, North Canterbury and is New Zealand’s leading producer of tree seed. The company will now be able to further develop and scale up its novel clonal propagation programme and commence the collection of seed from its clonal seed orchards.

 “This funding is a huge boost for us, “says Proseed’s CEO, Shaf van Ballekom. “We have already invested significantly in skills and facilities to support the NZDFI’s breeding programme and now we will be able to start to deliver the benefits of our eucalyptus breeding work. It’s very exciting.”

The 1BT funding will be matched by industry contributions and also the sale of improved nursery stock.  NZDFI project manager, Paul Millen, who developed the NZDFI’s 1BT funding proposal for Te Uru Rākau to consider, is looking forward to seeing the start of the supply of genetically improved seedlings, particularly to those landowners that have been waiting for these to be available.

“The plants will be launched under the ‘Xylogene’ brand ensuring that their genetics and quality are known, and the programme is recognised,” says Paul. All the plants are the product of breeding and selection work undertaken by the NZDFI since its inception in 2008. Growers will be able to plant genetically improved durable eucalypts for the first time ever in New Zealand.”

Marco Lausberg, manager of the SWP, says: “Funding from the 1BT fund is recognition that New Zealand needs species diversification as part of managing risk. This grant for the naturally durable eucalypt programme will help ensure the long-term sustainability of commercial forestry through realising value from emerging species and developing new models for forestry.”

Media contact:

For more information, contact Paul Millen, NZDFI Project Manager –   03 574 1001 / 021 662 147.

Download the full media release here