Brian Richardson


  • Phone: +64 7 343 5516
  • Email: Show email
  • Team: Ecology and Environment
  • Role: Principal Scientist, Plant Protection Physics and Chemistry


Dr Brian Richardson is a Principal Scientist in the Plant Protection Physics and Chemistry Team with research interests in pest eradication, control of wilding conifers, vegetation management in forest systems, and forest management sciences in general. Brian joined Scion in 1983 and has enjoyed a variety of roles both as a practicing scientist and in science leadership, including 12 years in senior management with 8 years leading Scion’s Forest Science group. Brian’s contribution to forestry and forest science have been recognised by his peers through presentation of the NZ Institute of Forestry ‘Forester Of the Year’ Award in 2015, a Science New Zealand Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and the Minister’s Biosecurity Award in 2024.


  • Hons (Biology) Lancaster University, UK - 1981
  • MSC (Bio-aeronautics) Cranfield Institute of Technology, UK - 1982
  • PhD (Forest Ecology) Oregon State University, USA - 1988

Research capabilities

Brian's research interests are varied. Over the past 37 years he has made a number of significant contributions to biosecurity, pest management, vegetation management and sustainable forest management.

As an internationally-recognised expert in forest vegetation management, Brian has been a plenary and invited speaker at a number of international science conferences. His research has included development of forest weed control regimes, models to describe the effects of weeds on tree growth, and decision support tools to evaluate the cost-benefit of treatment regimes. Current research activities focus on improving the efficiency of wilding conifer control and development of cost-effective vegetation management regimes for New Zealand’s indigenous tree species.

He has for many years worked collaboratively with the US Forest Service on the development of spray modelling systems to quantify pesticide drift and efficacy. In recognition for his contribution, he received a technology transfer award from the USDA Forest Service in 1996.

The knowledge on aerial spraying technology has also been put to good use in New Zealand with Brian’s involvement in a number of Technical Advisory Groups formed by the Ministry of Primary Industries to provide advice on a range of successful pest eradication programmes.
While work continues, on aerial spray technology, the current focus is on quantifying the potential role of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in forestry pest management systems and for pest eradication in urban environments. Specialties include:

  • Vegetation management in forest systems (exotic and indigenous)
  • Pest management
  • Improving aerial spray application efficiency, including the development of simulation models and decision support systems
  • Science management

Career highlights

  • 2024: Awarded the Minister's Biosecurity Award at the NZ Biosecurity Awards.
  • 2022: Awarded NZ Plant Protection Medal by NZ Plant Protection Society.
  • 2021: ‘Superior Paper’ Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
  • 2019: Science New Zealand Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 2018: Superior Paper’ Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
  • 2018: Invited participant at Biosecurity Innovation Exchange, Canberra Australia.
  • 2017: Invited speaker, NETS conference, Wellington.
  • 2015: Awarded “Forester of the Year” by NZ Institute of Forestry.
  • 2011: Invited speaker: Society of American Foresters Conference, Hawaii.
  • 2010: Invited speaker (funded), IUPAC Conference, Melbourne, spray modelling session.
  • 2008: Plenary speaker (funded) at Canadian Forest Service Workshop on spray modelling, Ontario Canada.
  • 2008: Invited speaker (funded), International Weed Science Society meeting, Canada (declined).
  • 2008: Invited onto Governance Boards of Future Forest Research Ltd and the Radiata Pine Breeding Company Ltd.
  • 2007: Invited speaker, NZ Plant Protection Society Symposium.
  • 2006: Invited onto Bushfire CRC governance board (resigned 2008).
  • 2006: Invited speaker: USDA Aerial Application Technology and Research Conference, Texas, USA.
  • 2005: Invited speaker: 5th International Conference on Forest Vegetation Management
  • 2004: Invited Speaker International Conference on Pesticide Application for Drift Management, Hawaii, USA.

Selected papers

Rolando, C.A., Gaskin, R.E., Horgan, D.B., Richardson, B. 2020 Effect of dose and adjuvant on uptake of triclopyr and dicamba into Pinus contorta needles. Plant Environment Interactions 1: 57-66.

Richardson, B., Kimberley, M.O., Rolando, C.A. Coker, G.W., Gous, S. 2019. Optimising spot weed control regimes for Pinus radiata plantations. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 49: 759-766

Barron, M.C, Liebhold, A.M., Kean, J.M, Richardson, B, Brockerhoff, E.G. 2019. Habitat fragmentation and eradication of invading insect herbivores. Journal of Applied Ecology 57: 590-598

Richardson, B. Rolando, C.A., Kimberley, M.O. In review. Quantifying spray deposition from a UAV configured for ‘spot’ spray applications to individual plants. In review Trans ASABE.

Richardson, B., Rolando, C. A., Kimberley, M. O., & Strand, T. M. (2019a). Spray Application Efficiency from a Multi-Rotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Configured for Aerial Pesticide Application. Transactions of the ASABE, 62(6), 1447-1453.

Richardson, B., Rolando, C. A., Somchit, C., Dunker, C., Strand, T. M., & Kimberley, M. O. (2019b). Swath pattern analysis from a multi‐rotor unmanned aerial vehicle configured for pesticide application. Pest Management Science. doi:

Richardson, B., Strand, T., Thistle, H.W., Hiscox, A., Kimberley, M.O. and Schou, W.C. 2017. Influence of a young Pinus radiata canopy on aerial spray drift. Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers 70: 1851-1861.

Strand, T.M., Rolando, C.A., Richardson, B., Gous, S., Bader, M.K.F., and Hammond, D. (2014) An aerial spot-spraying technique: a pilot study to test a method for pest eradication in urban environments. SpringerPlus, 3:750, 1-8.

Brockerhoff, E.G., Suckling, D.M., Kimberley, M.O., Richardson, B., Coker, G. Gous, S., Lance, D.R., Strand, T. and Zhang, A. 2012. Aerial application of pheromones for mating disruption of an invasive moth as a potential eradication tool. PLoS ONE 7(8), e43767.

Richardson, B., Kimberley, M. O., & Gous, S. F. (2011). Aircraft calibration for pest eradication operations using pesticides formulated as solid baits. Transactions of the ASABE, 54(4), 1245-1254.

Richardson, B., Kimberley, M., Ray, J.W., Coker, G.W. 1999.  Indices of interspecific plant competition for Pinus radiata in the Central North Island of New Zealand.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research 29: 898-905.

Wagner, R.G., Little, K., Richardson, B. and McNabb, K. 2006. The role of vegetation management for enhancing productivity of the world’s forests. Forestry 79: 57-79.

Watt, M S; Kimberley, M O; Coker, G W R; Richardson, B; Estcourt, G; 2007. Modelling the influence of weed competition on growth of Pinus radiata. Development and parameterisation of a hybrid model across an environmental gradient. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37(3): 607-616 (2007)