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20.03.2017Scion staff mark International Day of Forests
To mark the 2017 International Day of Forests, Scion staff have shared what growing New Zealand through trees means to them.

The forestry industry is the third largest primary industry exporter, providing more than 26,000 jobs and almost $5 billion to the economy annually.

Forestry also benefits the environment by stabilising soil, lifting water quality, storing carbon and supporting biodiversity.

Scion is the Crown research institute dedicated to growing New Zealand's economic, environmental and social wellbeing through trees.

Doug Gaunt, wood and fibre science leader, pointed out the huge benefits the New Zealand economy receives from forests.

"The wood processing industry is huge for New Zealand - and there is so much potential for increasing value onshore by converting trees into products like structural and appearance grade timber (doors, window framing etc), engineered wood products, chemicals, fibre based products, adhesives, buildings and so much more."

Sustainability was top of mind for biopolymer and chemicals research leader, Dr Dawn Smith.

"We can make incredible things with chemicals and fibre derived from trees - from 3D printed items, to biobased glue, there's so much potential. Forests as a renewable resource are well placed to be the heart of a biobased economy for New Zealand."

Sustainability was also a priority for Dr Paul Bennett, science leader of our clean technologies programme.

"We could replace the coal in industrial processes and produce liquid biofuels from trees. Some of the most promising bioenergy production comes from forest biomass and there's potential to use forestry and wood processing waste in the short term and have a big impact. But we need to plant more forests so we can use more bioenergy in the long term."

Scientist Steve Wakelin said the role forests played in sequestering and storing carbon was also a huge benefit to New Zealand and the world.

"In the post-Paris Climate Agreement environment, trees are more important to New Zealand than ever. They are likely to play a big part in meeting our target reduction in

greenhouse gas levels while still providing a wide range of other benefits."

Environmental economist Dr Richard Yao spoke on what prosperity from trees - mai i te ngahere oranga, meant to him.

"The clean, fresh air that forests produce is the first thing that comes to mind. And the

recreational opportunities that come from spending time in forests; exercising and watching the bird-life.

"When you add the economic value from selling the timber and the environmental value of avoided soil erosion, then it's easy to appreciate how forests contribute to our economic, social and environmental wellbeing."