Publications and technology translation

Scion’s science outcomes emerge from the laboratory and the field in various ways from papers in journals to field trip demonstrations. Making an impact with end users requires effective translation and transfer of our technologies alongside meaningful dialogue between scientists and industry. Highlights from the year are described below.

High-impact publications convey science quality

Publication of papers in top scientific journals maintains Scion’s international standing and visibility as a leading research institute in its focus areas. The annual weighted average H-index for Scion publications during the year was 53.6 (50.60 in 2013-14).

During 2014-15 Scion scientists had 126 papers published in peer-reviewed publications. Listed below are the top five papers based on the journal’s H-index, which is an international measure of the impact of scholarly publications.

Wagner, A, Tobimatsu, Y, Phillips, L D, Flint, H J, Geddes, B J, Lu, F, Ralph, J. (2015). Syringyl lignin production in conifers: Proof of concept in a pine tracheary element system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. doi:10.1073/pnas.1411926112

Widsten, P, Cruz, C D, Fletcher, G C, Pajak, M A, McGhie, T. (2014). Tannins and extracts of fruit byproducts: Antibacterial activity against foodborne bacteria and antioxidant capacity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 62, 11146−11156.

Andrews, J P, Smit, A, Wijeyekoon, S, McDonald, B M, Baroutian, S, Gapes, D J. (2014). Application of hydrothermal treatment to affect the fermentability of Pinus radiata pulp mill effluent sludge. Bioresource Technology 170, 100-107. doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2014.07.037

Epanchin-niell, R S, Brockerhoff, E G, Kean, J, Turner, J A. (2014). Designing cost-efficient surveillance strategies for early detection of invasive species: A case study on wood borers and bark beetles. Ecological Applications 24(6), 1258–1274. doi:10.1890/13-1331.1

Pawson, S M, Bader, M K. (2014, October). LED lighting increases the ecological impact of light pollution irrespective of colour temperature. Ecological Applications 24(7), 1561-1568. doi:org/10.1890/14-0468.1

NZJFS gets its first official impact factor

The New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science (NZJFS) received its first Thomson Reuters’ Journal Impact Factor. This value ranks the NZJFS at number 47 out of the 65 forestry journals included in the Thomson Reuters’ listing.


Forest Genetics Science Leader Dr Heidi Dungey teamed up with statistics expert Professor Brian Cullis (University of Wollongong) and undertook research for the Radiata Pine Breeding Company, as part of a 0.4 FTE secondment for 12-24 months. Heidi worked on factor analytic techniques for understanding genotype x environment (GxE) in RPBC parent trees. This will allow new statistical skills to be applied by RPBC to their Genomic Estimated Breeding Values, (or GEBVs), and will be the first demonstration of the potential for genomic selection in radiata pine.

Scion geneticist Dr Yongjun Li completed his six-month secondment with Forest Genetics Ltd (FGL) at 0.15 FTE. The secondment has brought FGL and Scion closer in their relationships and mutual goals. Based in Rotorua, FGL is a company that develops genetically improved varieties of radiata pine for the New Zealand and Australian forest plantation sectors.

Scion Resource Economist, Sandra Velarde was seconded to the Department of Conservation (DOC) national office in Wellington, in early March. She presented Scion’s economics capabilities at DOC’s natural capital assessment technical meeting and through one-on-one and small group interviews with key staff from the Science and Capability Group. A clear need for economic research was identified across this group. Multiple opportunities were identified to build Scion-DOC links and joint activities related to ecosystem services and natural capital.

Professor Zhaojun Li from the Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning at Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) visited Scion from 21 May to 26 June 2015 as part of the New Zealand/China Scientist Exchange Programme. The topics of this exchange visit included new technologies for remediation of antibiotics in animal manures and reuse of biowastes.

A selection of workshops and seminars

Scion Core-funded molecular genetics (Genomic Selection and Genome Sequence)
Scion has sequenced the huge radiata pine genome and is in the process of putting the giant jigsaw puzzle back together using the genome sequence of the closely related loblolly pine, as a guide. To determine next steps and foster international collaboration to complete the assembly, Scion hosted an international workshop in November 2014 attended by 33 participants. An open session was held to inform forest industry stakeholders of current research in pine genome sequencing and potential impacts. During a closed session, a first-draft road map was developed. The project is led by Scion with support from: Universities of Concepción (Chile), California (Davis), Johns Hopkins, Connecticut, Auckland and Otago (New Zealand), New Zealand Genomics Ltd, Massey University (New Zealand), and Radiata Pine Breeding Company.

Alternative exotic species
In December 2014, the Forest Growers Levy Trust and the Scion-funded Diverse Forests programme hosted a one day workshop in Christchurch titled ‘Swiss Needle Cast - What do we know and what can we do’. Twenty growers and researchers attended. The key message from the day was that the impact of SNC on Douglas-fir is quite manageable and should not deter growers from planting. Genetic solutions offered the best opportunity for long term mitigation of the effects of the disease, but in the short term, thinning and good stand management could reduce the impact of the disease.  Presentations are available at  

Healthy trees, healthy future
Over 90 participants attended the Kauri Dieback Symposium in Hokianga in February 2015 to discuss the latest research and management efforts to combat kauri dieback. The event was the initiative of Scion’s Healthy Trees, Healthy Future research team. Feedback indicated strong support for it to be an annual event.

Forest biosecurity workshop
The annual Forest Biosecurity Workshop held in February 2015, was coordinated by Scion and drew around 50 attendees. The workshop received excellent feedback from MPI and forest growers, and Scion’s Forest Protection Annual Science Report was published to coincide with the event.

Ecosystem services
Scion’s first Bay of Plenty Forest Ecosystem Services Workshop was held in February 2015 in Rotorua, attracting 50 attendees. Key messages from the day included the communication of landscapes, a multidisciplinary approach to ecosystem services research and cognitive dissonance among landholders and policy makers.

NZ Bio-Scion symposium
NZ Bio and Scion hosted the first symposium on industrial biotechnology in New Zealand at Scion, on 30-31 March 2015, with over 70 attendees. Many of the speakers were international and included some of Scion’s collaborators. Scion’s two new science leaders, Drs Paul Bennett and Florian Graichen presented as well as some Scion commercial collaborators. The symposium included a panel-audience discussion on what we could do in New Zealand to advance biotechnology industries and a tour of our facilities.

Tree-To-Tree Mobility System
Presentations about the tree-to-tree system were made at FPInnovations Robots in the Forest Workshop, April 2015, Montreal Canada (with 400+ attendees). The Scion/University of Canterbury “Tree-to-tree” machine was seen as revolutionary. At the workshop, Scion Research Leader Richard Parker learnt about the issues associated with introducing robotics and automation to the mining industry some 15 years ago.  Today, robotics and automation in mining is common.  

Farm Forestry Association Conference
Several Scion scientists presented at the Farm Forestry Association (FFA) annual conference in Whangarei, April 2015. The presentation on woodlot management was particularly very well received as most of the attendees have radiata pine woodlots, due for harvesting soon, and are thinking about options for the next rotation. Subsequently Scion, MPI and FFA agreed to develop a workshop for FFA members on these topics.  

Māori forestry hui
A Māori forestry hui and dinner ‘Mai I Te Ngahere Oranga 2015’ was held at Scion on 30 April, with help from Te Puni Kokiri and the Forest Owners Association. The hui, addressed by Minister Flavell, was a great success with many positive comments coming back from representatives from Māori Trusts and hapū groups. Scion helped organise and presented at the first Te Ara Pūtaiao (TAP) conference in Rotorua (22-23 June), organised by the seven CRIs, for iwi and hapu groups to connect with science and technology.  

Soil Sampling in Planted Forests Workshop
A majority of South Island forest management companies participated in the initial “Soil Sampling in Planted Forests Workshop” held in Christchurch in May 2105. It was a hands-on approach to the techniques and tools used for soil sampling. This workshop was an initiative of the GCFF Productivity Innovation Cluster Group and will enable managers in the future to use a more detailed understanding of site processes to make informed choices and lift productivity when cost effective.

NZ Wilding Conifers
Scion organised the annual New Zealand Wilding Conifer Management Group workshop at Flock Hill, Canterbury, as part of the Sustainable Farming Fund project “initiatives to support a national wilding strategy”. Over 40 participants from across New Zealand attended, including the Minister of Conservation. Workshop organiser Thomas Paul delivered “Guidelines for the use of the Wilding Risk Calculator” to MPI as an important support document for the National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry.