Peter Clinton



Dr Peter Clinton is a forest ecologist who specialises in maintaining the productive capacity of commercial forests. He is one of New Zealand’s leading experts in sustainable forest management. His expertise expands to production ecology, tree nutrition, biogeochemistry, soil organic matter and stable isotope methods. He has been an Adjunct Professor at the School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, since 2016. He has an extensive publications record (>100 international peer-reviewed papers) in the ecology and management of natural and planted forests. He has an extensive international networks with leaders in forestry research in the USA, China, France, Australia, the UK and Chile, and have hosted numerous researchers on sabbaticals as well as on exchange visits. He has helped to organise several international conferences and events, including chairing sessions at the World Forestry Congress in Argentina in 2009 and the IUFRO Congress in the USA in 2014. Recently, he was invited to give the closing keynote address at the prestigious North American Forest Soils Conference in Quebec, June 2018, which is held every 5 years. He is also an associate editor for the New Zealand Journal of Forest Science and frequently review manuscripts for several leading forestry and soil science journals.


  • PhD (Forestry), University of Canterbury, New Zealand -1991
  • MSc (1st Class Hons) (Botany), University of Canterbury, New Zealand -1987
  • BSc (Botany), University of Canterbury, New Zealand -1983

Research capabilities

  • Sustainable forest management
  • Production ecology
  • Tree nutrition
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Stable Isotope methods
  • Soil organic matter

Career highlights

  • 2018 invited Co Chair for The Forests Dialogue – Field Dialogue on Tree Plantations in the Landscape, 29th October to 2 November, Rotorua, New Zealand.
  • Organizing committee for International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO): Extension and Knowledge Exchange Conference (WG 9.01.03) – The importance of engaging local communities and stakeholders to increase successful adoption of new technologies. Christchurch, NZ, 9-13th September 2018.
  • 2018 invited keynote address, 13th North American forest soils conference – Soils-Forests interactions in changing environments
  • 2016–present Professor (Adjunct), School of Forestry, University of Canterbury
  • Invited Guest Editor Journal of Soil and Sediments v17
  • Invited Special Editor of the special issue of Canadian Journal of Forest Research v 46, 2016. Quantifying uncertainty in forest measurements and models: approached and applications
  • 2015 Invited Keynote speaker and member of organising committee for  the International Symposium on Forest Soils: Linking Soil Processes to Forest Productivity and Water Protection under Global Change (ISFS 2015), 24‒28 October 2015, Fuzhou
  • 2014 Awarded Scion’s CEO prize for an outstanding career with Scion
  • 2014 Co Chair sub plenary Session (SP-07) The importance of quantifying uncertainty in managing forests. IUFRO World Congress, Salt Lake City
  • 2014 Co Chair of technical session E-02b, Environmental impacts of intensive management of forest soils for timber and bioenergy production. IUFRO World Congress, Salt Lake City
  • 2014 Invited presenter, Forest Productivity Cooperative, annual meeting Atlanta, 14−18 October 2014
  • 2013 Invited Co-chair International symposium on Forest Soils: linking ecosystem processes and management to forest biodiversity and Functions, 17‒20 September 2013, Shenyang, China
  • 2012 Invited panellist Environment Defence Society annual conference session “What are the opportunities to green forestry production”, Auckland, 6 August
  • 2010 Invited participant in panel discussion for New Zealand Ecological Society Conference Symposium on Biodiversity and Production Lands: the Benefits and the Risks. Dunedin, 25 November 2010
  • 2009-present:  Invited Co-chair 13 World Forestry Congress, Argentina, Congress declaration drafting committee.
  • 2007:  Invited Adjunct Senior Fellow, School of Forestry, University of Canterbury
  • 2007:  Invited presenter, International workshop on Soil Plant Microbe Interactions and Plant Health, National Centre for Advanced Bio-protection Technologies, Lincoln University 11-12 April 2007.
  • 2005:  Invited chair IUFRO division 8 forest soils working group
  • 2005:  Science Leader FRST Programme Forestry and Environment
  • 2007-2009:  Science Leader FRST Programme Waste to Resources
  • 2004-2008:  Programme Manager New Zealand Forest Site Management Cooperative
  • 2003-2008:  Group leader, Long term Site Productivity
  • 2002:  OECD fellowship, biological resource management for sustainable agricultural.
  • 2002:  French Foreign Ministry Fellowship, Sustainable Forest Management in France.
  • 1999-2003:  NZ representative on International Energy Agency Activity “Task 18: Conventional forestry systems for Bioenergy

Selected papers

Gu, X., Zhou, X., Bu, X., Jiang, L., Wanf, S., Hao, Y., Wanf, Y., Xu, X., Wang, G., Krause, S.M.B., Smail, S.J., Clinton, P.W. 2019. Soil extractable organic C and N contents, methanotrophic activity under warming and degradation in a Tibetan alpine meadow. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 279, 6-14.
Rodriguez-Gamir, J.; Xue, J.; Clearwater, M.; Meason, D.F.; Clinton, P.W.; Domec, J.C. 2019. Aquaporin regulaton in roots controls plant hydraulic conductance, stomatal conductance and leaf water potential in Pinus radiata under water stress. Plant, Cell and Environment 42, 717-729.
Dungey, H.S.; Dash, J.P.; Pont, D.; Clinton, P.W.; Watt, M.S.; Telfer, E.j. Phenotyping whole forests will help track genetic performance. 2018. Trends in Plant Science. 23, 854-864.
Clinton, P.W. 2018. Future expectations of forest soils: increasing productivity within environmental limits using new knowledge. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research
Gallart, M.; Adair, K.; Love, J.; Meason, D.; Clinton, P.W.; Xue, J.; Turnbull, M. 2018. Genotypic variation in Pinus radiata responses to nitrogen form are related to changes in the root microbiome. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 94,
Parker, R.; Clinton, P.W.; Bayne, K.; Hooper, B. 2018. Forestry automation and Robotics. New Zealand Journal of Forestry 63, 39-40.
Zhou, X.; Chengyun X.; Hosseini Bai, S.; Xu, Z.; Smaill, S.J.; Clinton, P.W.; Chen, C. 2018. Manipulating interactions between plant stress response and soil methane oxidation rates. Biogeosciences DOI 10.5194/bg-2018-102
Gallart, M.; Adair, K.; Meason, D.F.; Clinton, P.W.; Xue, J.; Turnbull, M.H.; Love, J. 2018. Host genotype and nitrogen form shape the root microbiome of Pinus radiata. Microbial Ecology 75, 419−433.
Parker, R.; Hooper, H.; Clinton, P.W. 2017. Animal inspiration. Safeguard 163, 51-52.
Parker, R.; Bayne, K.; Clinton, P.W. 2016. Robotics in Forestry. New Zealand Journal of Forestry 60, 8‒14.
Smaill, S.J.; Clinton, P.W. 2016. An overview of the issues affecting fertiliser use in New Zealand’s radiata pine forests. New Zealand Journal of Forestry 61, 11‒16.
Garrett, L.G., Smaill, S.J., Clinton, P.W. 2015. Nutrient supply one rotation to the next. New Zealand Journal of Forestry 60, 16‒20.
Moore, J.; Clinton, P.W. 2015. Enhancing the productivity of radiata pine forestry with environmental limits.  New Zealand Journal of Forestry 60, 35‒41.
Yongjun L.; Jianming, X.; Clinton, P.W.; Dungey H. 2015. Genetic parameters and clone by environment interaction for growth and foliar nutrient concentration in radiate pine on 14 widely diverse New Zealand sites. Tree Genetics and Genomes (DOI 10.1007/s11295-014-0830-1)
Smaill, S.J.; Clinton, P.W.; Allen, R.B; Leckie, A.C.; Davis, M.R. 2014. Coarse soil can enhance the availability of nutrients from fine soil. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 177, 848−850.
Smaill, S.; Clinton, P.W.; Allen, R.B.; Davis, M.R. 2014. New evidence indicates the coarse soil fraction is of greater relevance to plant nutrition than previously suggested. Plant and Soil 374, 371−379.
Smaill, S.J.; Bayne, K.M.; Coker, G.W.R.; Paul, T.S.H.; Clinton, P.W. 2014. The right tree for the job? Perceptions of species suitability for the provision of ecosystem services. Environmental Management 53, 783−799.
Zhou, X.; Dong, H.; Chen, C.; Smaill, S.; Clinton, P.W. 2014. Ethylene rather than dissolved organic carbon controls methane uptake in upland soils. Global Change Biology 20, 2379−2380.
Greenfield, L.G.; Gregorich, E.G.; van Kessel, C.; Baldock, J.A.; Beare, M.H.; Billings, S.A.; Clinton, P.W.; Condron, L.; Hill, S.; Hopkins, D.W.; Jansen, H.H. 2013. Acid hydrolysis to define a biologically-resistant pool is compromised by carbon loss and transformation. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 64, 122−126.
Hamonts, K.; Clough, T.J.; Stewart, A.; Clinton, P.W.; Richardson, A.E.; Wakelin, S.A.; O’Callaghan, M.; Condron, L.M. 2013. Effect of nitrogen and waterlogging on denitrifier gene abundance, community structure and activity in the rhizosphere of wheat. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 83, 568−584.
Xue, J.; Clinton, P.W.; Leckie, A.; Graham, D. 2013. Magnesium fertiliser, weed control and clonal on wood stiffness of juvenile Pinus radiata at two contrasting sites. Forest Ecology and Management 306, 128−134.
Xue, J.; Clinton, P.W.; Davis, M.; Siddiqui, T.; Beets, P.N.; Leckie, A.C. 2013. Growth performance of improved radiata pine clones in relation to foliar nutrient concentrations and δ13C on a New Zealand serpentine soil. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 176, 724−733.
Zhou, X.; Smaill, S.J.; Clinton, P.W. 2013. Methane oxidation needs less stressed plants. Trends in Plant Science 18, 657−659.
Zhou, X.; Chen, C.; Wang, Y.; Smaill, S.; Clinton, P.W. 2013. Warming rather than increased precipitation increases soil recalcitrant organic carbon in a semiarid grassland after 6 years of treatments. PLoS ONE (8) 2 art no. e53761.
Khan, R.; Anderson, C.W.N.; Loganathan,P.;  Xue, J.; Clinton. P.W. 2012. Response of  Pinus radiata D. Don to boron fertilisation in a glasshouse study. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 43, 1412−1426.
Payn, T.W.; Spence, H.; Barnard, T.; Clinton, P.W.; Charteris, P.  2012. Perspectives on forests and climate change in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Forestry 56, 18−23.
Toosi, E.R.; Clinton, P.W.; Beare, M.H.; Norton, D.A. 2012. Biodegradation of soluble organic matter as affected by land-use and soil depth. Soil Science Society of America Journal 76, 1667−1677.
Geilen, G.J.H.P.; Clinton, P.W.; Vanden Heuvel, M.R.; Kimberley, M.O.; Greenfield, L.G.;  2011.  Influence of sewage and pharmaceuticals on soil microbial function. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 30, 1086−1095.
Huang, Z.; Condron, L.M.; Davis, M.R.; Clinton, P.W. 2011. Soil carbon pools, plant biomarkers and mean residence time after afforestation of grassland with three tree species. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43, 1341−1349.
Huang, Z.; Clinton, P.W.; Baisden, W.T.; Davis, M.R. 2011. Long-term nitrogen additions increased surface soil carbon concentration in a forest plantation despite elevated decomposition. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43, 302−307.
Huang, Z.; Clinton, P.W.; Davis, M.R. 2011. Post-harvest residue management effects on recalcitrant carbon pools and plant biomarkers within the soil heavy fraction in Pinus radiata plantations. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43, 404−412.
Huang, Z.; Clinton, P.W.; Davis, M.R.; Yang, Y. 2011. Impacts of plantation forest management on soil organic matter quality. Journal of Soils and sediments 11, 1309−1316.
Magesan, G.N.; Wang, H.; Clinton, P.W.; McIntosh, J. 2012. Nitrogen cycling in gorse-dominated ecosystems in New Zealand – An overview. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 36, 21−36.