The first decade of the 2000s saw a number of key developments as the need for alternatives to radiata pine became more apparent. The NZDFI was formally established in 2008.

2003 – CCA concerns: In Marlborough the wine industry was booming. People were becoming increasingly concerned about the use of hundreds of thousands of CCA-treated vineyard posts and their potentially toxic impacts on soil and water. Marc Greven, a scientist employed by Plant and Food Research and based at the Marlborough Research Centre, undertook research which confirmed that CCA (copper–chromium–arsenic) does transfer out of posts into soil.

Some of Marc’s key publications are as follows:

2003 – Marlborough trials begin: Paul Millen planted his first durable eucalypt trials in Marlborough in 2003.

2003/04 – Scion stringybark trials:  Ruth McConnochie (Scion) led the establishment of a widespread network of trials to test the performance of 12 species from the stringybark group and three others of class 1 and 2 durability. An initial analysis was published in 2008 (McConnochie et al 2008).

2004 – NZFFA stringybark trials: Research scientist Ian Nicholas and the NZ Farm Forestry Association established a second stringybark trial network, expanding the range of species. The Scion and NZFFA trials include some durable species, and are providing some useful growth data. Linked to this work was the establishment in 2004 of over 40 small trials throughout many regions of New Zealand to test the survival and early growth of 14 eucalypt species, mainly stringybarks and a small number of other durable species. This work was led by the Eucalypt Action Group of the NZ Farm Forestry Association, with support from Scion. Gordon et al., (2007) provides useful information on the site requirements for their successful establishment.

2005 – ENSIS formed: In 2005, Scion formed a research partnership with CSIRO. This partnership, ‘ENSIS’, strengthened links between NZ and Australian eucalypts researchers and led to some key publications and further trials in Australia. ENSIS was relatively short-lived but productive for NZ eucalypts research as there was a key research project undertaken in Australia by David Bush. He demonstrated genetic variation of heartwood and durability in 8-year old E. cladocalyx, thereby giving impetus to the concept of a tree breeding programme in New Zealand aimed at doing this.

2007 – Marlborough Lines contacts Paul Millen to support local trials to grow NSW eucalypt hardwoods that are specified for use as cross arms in the New Zealand Standard NZS 485: 1969. Marlborough Lines are specifically interested in growing strong, durable timber for use in power-pole cross arms. 

The relevant standard and species list are available; key NZDFI species are highlighted in the species list. 

2008 – Scion stringybark trial analysis: the best overall performing class 1 or 2 durable species across these sites was assessed as E. globoidea (McConnochie et al., 2008 - see Key References).

2008 – NZDFI begins: NZDFI was formally established, in partnership with the Marlborough Research Centre, University of Canterbury and Proseed NZ Ltd.

2008 - Scion sawing and drying study: of 25 yr-old E. globoidea, E. muelleriana E. pilularis and E. fastigata completed to determine if these species could produce high-quality timber on shorter rotations. The study confirmed these species could offer shorter rotations, but that early pruning was needed to ensure the butt log produced a high proportion of timber grades suitable for high-value appearance and structural applications (Jones et al., 2010 - see Key References).

2008 - Plantation Eucalypts for High Value Timber conference:  brought together 130 growers, managers, processors, investors, policy makers and researchers to review their collective work on developing plantation eucalypts to produce high value timber.

2009 – first NZ durable eucalypts workshop: the University of Canterbury, in conjunction with the NZDFI, held an inaugural ‘Durable Eucalypts’ workshop. This brought together key international experts in eucalypts with a mix of NZ researchers and growers.

Relevant presentations included: