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Story: Forestry research

From the beginnings of commercial forestry in New Zealand, researchers have been looking for ways to propagate, grow and process trees better and faster. They’ve also found ways to protect trees from pests and have developed new wood products, including biofuels.

Story by Margaret Richardson
Main image: A sawing study of an unpruned log

Story Summary

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Introducing trees

Native trees grow to maturity very slowly and so native forests don’t recover quickly after being cut down. To make sure there would be enough wood in future, researchers tested fast-growing trees from overseas.

Radiata pine trees were found to be the best for planted forests, because they grow fast and their wood can be used for many different purposes.

Types of research

Forestry researchers look for ways to support the forestry industry. Their work includes

  • studying the way forests grow
  • experimenting with new methods of planting and caring for trees
  • finding ways to make trees grow bigger and faster
  • stopping insects or diseases from damaging the plants
  • inventing new machines to plant, prune and cut down trees, and process the wood
  • developing new wood products, including different kinds of fuels to run factories, heat schools and power cars.

Benefits of forests

Researchers have found that plantation forests can:

  • make the soil more fertile
  • improve the quality of water in nearby rivers and streams
  • make land more stable
  • help reduce greenhouse gases by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
How to cite this page:

Margaret Richardson, 'Forestry research', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/forestry-research (accessed 29 June 2017)

Story by Margaret Richardson, published 24 Nov 2008