Leading our shift to a circular bioeconomy

Scion’s vision for New Zealand is clear. We believe that through the power of forestry we can create a future that is sustainable, biobased and circular.

The COVID-19 pandemic has offered New Zealand a rare chance to reset our economy and shift our momentum towards a greener future where we value nature more for the benefits it offers us, and what we can learn and make from renewable natural resources.

Scion’s newly updated strategic plan through to 2030 sets out our long-term direction and programmes of work to deliver our purpose and achieve great outcomes for New Zealand, nationally and regionally.

Drs Tara Strand, Roger Hellens and Florian Graichen have each taken up new leadership roles with a determined focus on how our research can help to deliver our vision. Here are their aspirations for New Zealand’s future.

Dr Tara Strand

Dr Tara Strand, General Manager Forest and Landscapes

Imagine a place where Aotearoa forests, indigenous forests, are helping to solve New Zealand’s complex issues. They were planted decades earlier and have helped to ensure clean freshwater; they mitigate erosion; they counter our carbon release; they have improved our mental and physical well-being. Standing forests have a recognised value based on their purpose. Te Ao Maori has helped to design and meet this purpose.

In 2050 New Zealand is a globally treasured place, leading the world in methods for counter-balancing our industrial needs with carbon-based solutions provided by standing forests and the circular bioeconomy.

Dr Roger Hellens

Dr Roger Hellens, General Manager Forests to Timber Products

What role will trees play in our society in 2050? I want to see the New Zealand domestic and export economy thriving from wood and timber products that have trusted and tailored applications thanks to the digitisation of the timber supply chain.

Exotic and native tree crops will be designed, through the application of new breeding technologies, to meet consumer and industry demand for quality, and the New Zealand domestic market demonstrates the global opportunity for tree-based products.

New Zealand’s 1,000,000,000 tree planting initiative will have sparked an appreciation of the environmental benefits from growing trees and put trees and the forestry industry at the centre of climate change remediation policy.

Communities will be empowered through better connection to their local culture and urban environment. Trees and urban green spaces will be central to improvements in the well-being of all their citizens.

Dr Florian Graichen

Dr Florian Graichen, General Manager Forests to Biobased Products

By 2050 New Zealand could be one of the big winners of a global transition to circular bioeconomies. By weaving the Māori world view and stories into our science and innovation we have an additional, globally unique point of difference.

We can create value chains from gene to product that meet increasing sustainability demands. In 2050 we would have a high tech, resource-efficient and competitive economy. In the research focused on biobased products and manufacturing we would see:

  • Biorefinery solutions and infrastructure – for energy as well as renewable highvalue materials and products.
  • De-centralised manufacturing close to renewable resources – boosting our regions.
  • Additive and other advanced manufacturing technologies using biobased resources.
  • Symbiotic designer forests – customised feedstock for the circular bioeconomy.

To learn more about our new general managers, contact

Dr Tara Strand, Dr Roger Hellens or Dr Florian Graichen


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