Meeting our science and innovation goals - Impact Area 1

ia1iconForests and landscapes. To grow healthy, resilient forests that are planted primarily for their standing-forest benefits.
  • Key performance indicators

    By 2020, Scion, in collaboration with key industry, Māori, and government stakeholders will have initiated an R&D portfolio that achieves impact through accelerated propagation from tissue culture and nursery practice, and productivity gain and greater resilience from genetics and tree improvement.

  • Achievements

    The first year of the seven-year Tissue Culture Partnership project focused on contracting and establishing capability. The project aims to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and economic viability of tissue culture propagation methods for radiata pine using temporary immersion (TIM) bioreactors and a fluidic sorting system to separate and process viable embryos to produce small plants. The project involves industry through Forest Growers Research and collaborators Georgia Tech (GT), USA, and Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE).

    Scion now has 48 TIM bioreactors and a new facility. Travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19 delayed installation of the systems that control the TIM bioreactor, but this work is proceeding with virtual assistance.

    Scion’s research nursery was upgraded with a state-of-the-art propagation facility. An industry open day showcased the new facility to the nursery sector in December 2019.

    To help indigenous tree nursery production capacity, a large work programme commenced, and several nursery productivity trials have started to produce results.

    Studies into the potential effectiveness of genomic selection (GS) have led to the Radiata Pine Breeding Company and Scion proceeding with implementation of GS.

  • By 2021, Scion will have a research platform to accelerate the delivery of ecosystem services from production and conservation forests through sustainable vegetation management practices that support continuous licence to operate. We will partner with key stakeholders Te Uru Rākau (TUR), Forest Owners Association (FOA), LandCorp, Māori, Department of Conservation (DOC) and regional councils to enable the success of a range of tree establishment programmes.

  • Together with TUR, FOA, Pāmu/Landcorp, DOC, regional councils, Tuhoe Tuawhenua Trust and Te Toa Whenua Trust an MBIE Endeavour Fund proposal “He nuku heu heu: Forest vegetation management drives tree establishment success” was submitted in March 2020 and successfully passed the science excellence assessment. The proposed programme aims to accelerate knowledge around establishment of planted indigenous forests in highly modified environments. The proposal integrates local knowledge (mātauranga) for planted indigenous-forest systems with national and international expertise in ecophysiology, vegetation/weed ecology, indigenous-forests systems, ecological modelling, remote sensing, precision spraying and biotechnology.

    A TUR one billion trees programme on use of herbicides for establishment of planted indigenous forests was funded in 2020 enabling development of expertise and knowledge around herbicides that can be used safely with weeds common to forestry situations.

  • By 2020, working with Māori entities, cultural values have been integrated with Forest Investment Framework output to make land use decisions.

  • Not completed. Incorporation of cultural values into the Forest Investment Framework is ongoing work supported by the appointment of a specialist in this research area.

  • By 2021, Scion continues to be recognised as having contributed to New Zealand’s ongoing national and international carbon reporting obligations.

  • Scion analysed national forest inventory data from natural and planted forests to produce revised estimates of the carbon stocks and stock changes in forests for use in greenhouse inventory reporting and policy development. Reports were prepared for MPI and MFE assessing options for reporting net carbon stock changes in forests under the Paris Agreement. New Zealand’s accounting approach for wood products, together with the resulting stock changes, were published in a peer-reviewed journal for the first time.

  • By 2021, Scion in partnership with Māori have co-developed a breeding plan for at least one indigenous forest species.

  • A hui was held with mana whenua in June 2020 to plan next steps in co-developing planting options for kauri on their whenua, which may lead to a co-developed kauri breeding programme.

  • By 2021, the impacts of insect pests and pathogens on tree species grown for their standing benefits have been evaluated and research programmes to mitigate those effects have been started.

  • Scion has collaborated for the last three years with the apiculture industry and the Regional Council River Managers Forum to improve the health of willows, which protect erosion-prone land, are a food source for honey bees, provide animal shelter and amenity values. The invasive pest giant willow aphid creates honeydew that attracts wasps. When gathered by honey bees it creates a bitter crystal honey reducing honey quality and food for the honey bee brood. With support from MPI’s Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures Fund and co-funding from the NZ Honey Industry Trust and Zespri International, Scion delivered an aphid parasitoid, Pauesia nigrovaria, for biological control. In the year, 23 separate releases were carried out at 15 locations, with establishment confirmed already at two of the sites.

    Targeted field sampling of manuka, kauri, totara, rimu and kahikatea plantations and revegetation projects started in 2019 to assess pest and pathogen risk. A native fungus Junghuhnia vincta and an exotic pathogen Phytopythium vexans were found attacking kauri for the first time. Other new pathogen records were made, including Phytopythium litor on kahikatea. This exotic pathogen has attacked other woody hosts and agricultural crops since it was first found here in 2008. The findings suggest that risk from new pests and pathogens to native tree  establishment remains significant.

    Frequent monitoring of myrtle rust at two native forest sites near Rotorua continued, showing that the disease was still spreading within and between sites and having a significant impact on endemic Lophomyrtus (ramarama). Despite a very dry summer, myrtle rust caused death of Lophomyrtus seedlings and dieback of older trees. The disease was observed on foliage, stems, flowers and fruits. New monitoring sites were established in Auckland and Taranaki regions. Pilot studies in two native forests showed greater disease severity on Lophomyrtus growing in more open situations than those under canopy. Plantings of native myrtle species in trial field conditions confirmed ramarama and pohutukawa susceptibility but no symptoms observed on manuka and kanuka.

  • By 2023, the Forest Investment Framework has been implemented to span three dimensions (time, space and risk), integrated with other land use models, and includes at least three new ecosystem services and five new forest productivity surfaces. The framework includes a protocol to integrate Māori cultural values in the decision making process.

  • Under the 2014-2019 “Growing confidence in forestry futures” MBIE-funded programme, we developed four new ecosystem services (ES) functions - biodiversity enhancement, water footprint, avoided nitrogen and recreation – to add to the Forest  Investment Framework’s three-existing ES functions - timber viability, carbon sequestration and avoided erosion. The seven spatial ES functions now enable a comprehensive quantification and valuation of the multiple benefits of current and future forests in New Zealand.

  • By 2023, Scion has provided the underpinning science to support and enhance licence to operate through environmental certification and to meet regulatory requirements, particularly in relation to Douglas-fir wilding spread and pesticides use.

  • Research examining terrestrial arthropod biodiversity in plantations that aims to improve plantation forestry's licence to operate started in 2019. The first year focussed on 15 plots established in radiata pine and native remnants within the forest. Iwi gave their blessing for entry to Pukemako, one of the native bush sites. An exciting find already was the rare and unique New Zealand beetle Brounia thoracica in a native remnant in northern Kinleith. Until recently, this odd little beetle was known from just seven specimens collected over the last 150 years. In February 2020, three specimens were found, indicating pine forests and native remnants can hold unexpected biodiversity.

    Through our research under the MBIE-funded “Winning against wildings” programme, Scion provided new detection and mapping approaches that are efficient and highly accurate thereby allowing mapping of local and regional wilding infestations as the future basis for control planning and monitoring. Our thought leadership sparked multiple authorities to develop operational remote sensing-based mapping approaches based on our research and guidelines to support their wilding control efforts across the country.