Scion marks 75 years

Wednesday 27 Apr 2022

Since it was established in 1947, the Forest Research Institute, now known as Scion, has played a significant role in forest research for New Zealand - This year the Crown Research Institute (CRI) turns 75 and continues to deliver impact for New Zealand, not just across the forestry sector, but also in the area of biomaterials, bioenergy, waste and ecosystem services.
This evolution represents the increasing importance of forests, and
Scion’s commitment to enhancing New Zealand’s prosperity, wellbeing and environment through trees.

In April 1947, the State Forest Service established a Forest Experiment Station beside the existing nursery at Whakarewarewa Forest. The decision to centralise forestry research laid the foundation for Scion today, supporting New Zealand's third largest export industry.

Scion’s research has had significant outcomes for New Zealand’s 1.7 million hectares of planted forests. Forestry adds $6 to $7 billion to the economy each year in export revenue and provides jobs for around 35,000 people.

Scion’s chief executive Dr Julian Elder says the 75th anniversary is a chance to reflect on where the organisation has come from and where it is headed, but also to really acknowledge the place that Scion sits right now – quite literally, the land on which the institute was built.

“When we opened our award-winning innovation hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata, in March last year, we started on a journey of inviting visitors into Te Papa Tipu campus, where Scion is headquartered in Rotorua, and sharing our work with the community.

For principal scientist, Brian Richardson, celebrating 75 years of Scion is a chance to acknowledge the high-calibre breadth of work that has been achieved over that time.

Dr Richardson has worked at Scion for 39 years across many areas of forest science. In that time, he has seen a lot of changes – and a lot of things come back around. The highlights across the organisation have been many - genetic improvement of radiata pine, overcoming many forest health challenges and biosecurity incursions, supporting development of sustainable forest management practices to ensure maintenance of productivity and license to operate, and creation of management models.

“Scion has certainly been a leader across a range of research. Our work in areas such as ecosystem services – quantifying the benefits of forests beyond the timber – were happening long before the topics were accepted as mainstream activities.”

Doug Gaunt is a principal researcher in the materials analysis, characterisation and testing team. He joined Scion in 1979 and says the organisation’s contribution to the structural timber sector has been transformational.

Gaunt and his team focus on commercial testing for the timber building sector, supplying customers with the information they need to develop their own products and to meet export standards.

“Scion has been doing this work extensively for 40 or 50 years and I’d like to think that our research and expertise has impacted most building products in New Zealand. That is a huge testament to the work that has been conducted in our timber engineering labs.

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Source: Scion

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