is for New Zealand to become a world leader in the breeding and sustainable forest management of naturally durable eucalypts that produce high quality hardwood.
Welcome to the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative
The NZDFI is a collaborative cross-sector research and development project that is researching and promoting genetically-improved naturally-durable eucalypt species for planting on drought prone and erodible pastoral land within New Zealand. The work of the NZDFI is based at the Marlborough
Research Centre in Blenheim with a science and extension programme that includes Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough and Canterbury.
Why this initiative?
- New Zealand is the only Southern Hemisphere country to be principally reliant on pine plantations for its forest resource.
- However, pine timber has been proven to lack the wood properties required for high strength and high value use, and for many applications it requires chemical treatment to ensure durability.
- Internationally, while the trade in tropical hardwood is unsustainable, demand continues unabated for valuable threatened timbers. In 2007, New Zealand imported over $32 million of hardwoods, much of this cut from unsustainably managed tropical rain forests, some of which are likely to
have been logged illegally. However, many consumers both in New Zealand and in our international markets, are demanding traceability on the products they purchase, including timber.
- A select group of eucalypt timbers are renown for their colour, natural durability and strength. Yet, currently only 1% (4000 m3) of the annual cut of NZ grown sawn timber is eucalypt.
- In the early 2000s, concern mounted in Marlborough regarding the potential for arsenic leachate from CCA treated pine posts to contaminate the groundwater within the Rarangi area in the lower Wairau Valley. Local newspaper reports resulted in very negative feedback from international wine
markets about NZ’s wine production and the negative effect this story had on it’s clean and green marketing image.
- With CCA-treated wood now banned for many uses by the USA and several countries in Europe, there are significant international and domestic markets for naturally-durable timbers.
- New Zealand forest growers therefore have the opportunity to take advantage of both these domestic and international timber markets by developing fully eco-certified eucalypt plantations to produce high value hardwood.
- New Zealand’s primary industries need sustainable land use options that are resilient to the effects of climate change. This is particularly so in NZ drylands where, in recent years, there has been an increase in prolonged droughts. Drylands can sustain productive forest, e.g. Yatir
pine forest planted in 1964 in Israel, with rainfall < 500 mm/yr, sequesters carbon as rapidly as pine forests in continental Europe (Schimel 2010). Eucalypt trees are also renown for their adaptability to droughty and eroding landscapes. There are a number of ground durable species
that, when correctly sited, have excellent survival and fast growth rates.
- New Zealand’s Kyoto commitments create opportunities to invest in new forests to mitigate carbon emissions. Eucalypts with high wood density, and fast growth rates, can sequester carbon at faster rates than radiata pine.
- Developing renewable energy sources are part of New Zealand’s sustainable energy future with the high calorific value for eucalypt wood residues having the potential for use in co-generation plants or to produce biofuel.
More information about the NZDFI strategy and about durable eucalypt species being improved by our research team can be found on this site. You can have a look at the work we have started on researching potential markets for durable eucalypt roundwood and sawlog.
Also take a look at our news releases for the latest updates about the project or visit our links to find out more about the members of the NZDFI.
If you want further information please contact us.