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Marlborough forestry project awarded

Marlborough has been the perfect environment for an award winning forestry project to produce hardwood from genetically improved eucalypts. Sources: The Marlborough Express, Stuff NZ

The New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative (NZDFI) won the Marlborough Research Centre and Plant and Food Research Supreme Award at last month’s Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards, as well as the Cuddon Engineering Business Innovation Award.

A field day at one of the plantation sites will now discuss the science, research and trials behind the 12-year project, as well as plans to protect the IP and brand into the future.

Project founder Paul Millen said the venture’s success stemmed from support from the Marlborough Research Centre, Ngai Tahu owned seed company Proseed, Canterbury University, and forward thinking farm foresters, along with impetus from the region’s wine industry, where millions of treated posts could be replaced with New Zealand grown naturally durable hardwood.

“The opportunity when you start at a grass-roots level is to engage with innovators who are prepared to take on the risk on a new venture, but in a scientific way.”

He said the Xylogene brand developed to take the durable hardwoods to the world could be compared with the kiwifruit sector’s Zespri model, and would give foresters confidence in tree stocks, and the market confidence in the durability and quality of the wood, as well as traceability back to the forest gate.

Awards judges called the research pioneering, and said the results would give growers the plants and knowledge to farm the species best suited to their conditions.