NZDFI aims to breed trees that will yield consistently high quality, durable timber. Wood, like all natural products, is highly variable. Previous research has revealed that wood properties are partly controlled by genetics. By breeding from trees with superior wood quality properties, we stand to make huge gains in average wood quality.


Wood science research at the University of Canterbury School of Forestry

Research at the University of Canterbury School of Forestry is focusing on better understanding and describing the wood properties of our selected durable eucalypt species. We are focusing especially on the quality and quantity of heartwood produced at different ages, and on different sites.

Our wood quality research feeds directly back into the NZDFI breeding programme. The breeding programme is all about making  genetic gains in important tree characteristics, and a key driver is to breed trees with wood properties that are in demand in high value markets.

Research programme and methods

Our breeding programme is selecting superior trees that produce high quality, durable timber. The younger we can identify superior trees, the faster we can make significant genetic improvement in wood properties

The key wood properties of interest, and associated research programmes at the School of Forestry are:

Measuring wood properties is laborious, but successful tree breeding programmes rely on assessing samples from large numbers of trees. To help speed up assessment work, we have developed techniques to quickly and reliably measure wood properties in young trees. This enables us to select superior trees early in tree breeding programmes, speeding up the selection cycle.


PhD student Ebenezer Iyiola taking cores from E. globoidea.

Extracted cores stained to test for heartwood..

More information on wood properties and utilisation

Check out our Library for all wood technology publications. Our six-monthly Project Updates describe how research has progressed over time.

More information on timber properties, utilisation and markets is available in our Guidelines for Wood Processors and Users section.

Two key potential markets for our strong, durable timbers are posts and poles for vineyards and other primary production markets, and laminated veneer lumber (LVL).

Our  Wood Quality Research Plan is available here (March 2017).


Taking samples of E argphloia to measure growth strain.

Taking samples to test for growth strain from a Marlborough trial site.

Taking samples of E argophloia to test for growth strain.



Key researchers

Associate Professor Clemens Altaner leads wood science research at the School of Forestry.