NZ and Argentina forestry scientists to collaborate on climate change

7 December 2007

New Zealand and Argentina forestry scientists have agreed to collaborate on a study of the impacts of climate change on southern hemisphere beech (Nothofagus) forests. The collaborative research programme was announced between New Zealand Crown Research Institute Scion and Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) in Buenos Aires last week. The joint research programme is aimed at improving the understanding of the risks and potential mitigation options associated with climate change effects on southern beech forests. Scion principal scientist Dr Tim Payn says the risk associated with climate change could have significant impacts on the distribution, productivity, genetic diversity and health of southern hemisphere beech forests.

The organisations will align two of their research programmes – Forests and Climate Change, New Zealand, and Domestication of Beech species, Argentina, to meet a common goal: the ability to predict the potential impacts of climate change on beech, and the ability to respond to those potential impacts. Dr Payn says the focus of the joint research is on understanding the physiological response of the species across a wide range of climatic conditions, and the development of spatial models based upon physiological and environmental processes to allow prediction of future scenarios for beech in both countries. Both research groups are developing approaches to establish new Nothofagus forests on unforested sites, which is one potential option to mitigate climate change impacts. Dr Payn says New Zealand will benefit from the fundamental understanding of beech physiology that the INTA physiology and ecophysiology group has developed, and also the opportunity to study responses in climate zones far outside New Zealand norms for beech growth. “This will enable New Zealand to develop more robust climate based models to predict likely effects if the climate was to move outside its current limits,” he says. Dr Tomas Schlichter, Coordinator of the National Forestry Programme at INTA sees great benefit to Argentina from the New Zealand team’s background in spatial environmental modelling, implementation of experimental programmes to understand the impact of the environment on forest processes, and the links between Scion and CSIRO in Australia through the Ensis collaboration in the area of physiological process based modelling.

The programme was announced at the recent 18th Working Group meeting of the Montreal Process for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal forests ( A major focus of the 12 country Montreal Process is the development of international networks of experts and capacity building in the area of Sustainable Forest Management. The collaboration builds on the long standing relationship between New Zealand and Argentina through their common membership of the Montreal Process since 1995. The research is supported in New Zealand through Foundation of Research Science and Technology programmes in Forests and Climate Change and Forests and Environment