Impact KPI-1 Sustainable forest production

IO1: Commercial forestry and ecosystem services

By 2019 tools, novel forest management approaches and new plant material will be embedded into New Zealand’s forests and forestry practices to support the industry’s target to increase radiata pine MAI from an average of 20 m3 ha-1 yr-1 to 35 m3 ha-1 yr-1 and in a way that enhances the sustainability of forest growing in New Zealand.

Leading indicator
By 2016 Scion will have quantified the gap between current productivity and potential productivity that could be achieved if key limiting factors could be overcome. These new insights will inform industry strategies to sustainably improve productivity, including breeding for growth and quality.
This gap, based on soil climate and biophysical limitation, has been spatially mapped. About 18%, 317,000 ha, of existing radiata pine forest was identified as performing below its productivity potential. It is estimated that closing the gap represents a $115 million p.a. opportunity for the industry.
A phenotyping platform has been used to identify outstanding individual trees for at least one key trait with superior germplasm and is being deployed by 2019.
Excellent progress was made on the phenotyping platform and LiDAR algorithms that locate and identify individual trees. Analysis of a single genetics trial was completed and demonstrated to industry at the IUFRO Forest Genetics conference (March 2016) and GCFF conference (May 2016). Data structures for whole forest analysis were developed and initial whole forest phenotypic data were extracted. Assembly of the data for the phenotyping platform is underway in preparation for the first proof-of-concept of the platform in 2016-17.
By 2016 at least two new biotech trees are evaluated for traits (e.g. productivity and herbicide resistance) and reported to stakeholders.
A contained field trial of biotech trees with modified lignin was maintained and shown to numerous stakeholder groups. The modification will reduce the energy cost of processing for pulp or biofuels production. The herbicide resistant trial was completed and a manuscript prepared for publication.

By 2017 remote sensing technologies are being used by forest growers to obtain quantitative information on the performance of their forests, and this is being used widely to inform management practices.

GCFF phenotyping cluster group member companies used LiDAR and spectral technology to measure their trees and the information was used in a study to show optimum stocking rates.  Industry began using this information in management practices.
By 2017 Scion will have operationalised at least two new information system technologies that will contribute to increasing forest productivity.
A prototype tree diameter measurement tool was developed and is now being explored for commercialisation. Tests for machine learning technologies have been successful and we are exploring ways to operationalise these.
By 2019 at least two major forest growers have changed their management practices and are applying new treatments designed to increase productivity of mid-rotation stands.
A novel approach was developed using Scion’s track sprayer to apply foliar treatments under controlled conditions and this has greatly reduced trial costs. Drone technology is now being used to reduce costs of field testing these foliar treatments for enhanced productivity. Industry workshops have been run, which have led to forest growers initiating soil sampling programmes to assess the potential for growth responses.

By 2019 next generation genetics will have delivered new trees with an additional 15% genetic gain compared with the average improvement of 2012 deployed genetic seedlots.
Elite radiata pine trees were genotyped for the first round of genomic selection through the RPBC Genomics Partnership. The first tranche (circa 600 clones) was analysed with strong indications that the technique will be successful. These results have increased industry’s confidence in these technologies and breeding selections.

Scion hosted the Forest Genetics for Productivity Conference (March 2016) with 109 delegates from 17 countries, and the molecular genetics conference, MapNet (October 2015), with 70+ delegates.
On-going: the Forestry Library, Permanent Sample Plots (National Forest Tree Database), and Tree Genetic Archives remain viable and provide valuable information about the national forestry position for New Zealand.

The Permanent Sample Plot system underpins key Scion and industry research programmes, such as GCFF, providing access to data and serving as a repository for data being collected from the next generation of forestry trials.