Establishment of NZDFI 2008
On 1st July 2008, the New Zealand Dryland Forests initiative was established at the Marlborough Research Centre in Blenheim.
This followed early research on the potential that durable eucalypts could have for use as vineyard posts that started in 2003 with Vineyard Timbers Ltd (VT), a Marlborough
based R&D company, establishing a joint venture with Proseed NZ Ltd.
Seed was imported for over 25 species and many formal and informal trials were planted with the co operation of Marlborough District Council and several private landowners. The Marlborough Research Centre
Trust (MRCT) and the NZ School of Forestry (S o F) took an early interest in this work. MRCT identifying the regional benefits the project offered with the S o F providing advice on the potential for genetic improvement of heartwood and durability.
By 2006, several promising species had
been identified and a formal breeding strategy to improve these was developed by Vineyard Timbers, Proseed and School of Forestry. In 2006 and 2007, applications for government funding for this breeding programme were unsuccessful. Therefore, this core group decided to launch a regionally
funded R&D programme based at MRCT and gained the financial support of Marlborough District Council and Marlborough Lines for this programme.
This wider group made a successful funding application for $80,000 to the Agriculture Marketing and Development Trust (AGMARDT) in October
2009 that has provided the basis for commencing with planting the first base breeding population of Eucalyptus bosistoana in spring 2009. A further $5,000 was granted by the Neil Barr Farm Forestry Foundation to pay for the costs of setting up the NZDFI website.
An official project
launch was held on 28th January at the Marlborough Research Centre with the photo below showing the Chairman, John Marris and Deputy Chairman Edwin Pitts unveiling a eucalypt hardwood plaque to commemorate the start of the project.
SFF Funding in 2010
In April 2010, MAF advised that
our application was approved for a grant of $399,000 over the next three years. This SFF grant marks a major milestone as it ensures that expansion of the tree breeding programme and an extension programme to promote the establishment of genetically improved durable eucalypts in some
of New Zealand’s driest regions.
The SFF grant is also matched by significant financial support from the NZDFI members and supporters that are providing additional cash contributions of $320,000. This will be supplemented by an additional $300,000 plus of “in kind” contributions.
These are very valuable contributions from the many organisations that are supporting the programme.
Chairman of the NZDFI, Shaf van Ballekom, believes that central to success of our programme is the wide cross sector involvement with a “strong community of interest” focused on
a common purpose. He cites the rapidly growing interest and support since the NZDFI was formally established in July 2008.
“We’ve now got the interest and support of farm foresters and wine growers. We’re based at a regional research centre with a national university leading our tree improvement programme. We’re supported by Marlborough’s local lines company and I’m a forest
seed grower. There’s five regional councils supporting us and there’s a whole lot of landowners offering sites for breeding populations. What binds these groups together is this common objective, to produce naturally durable wood products.”