An exploration of knowledge development, dissemination, and resource mobilisation within New Zealand’s forestry innovation system : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Environmental Management at Massey University, New Zealand

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Massey University
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In New Zealand, plantation forestry is the third largest export earner, representing about 1.6% of GDP and offsetting over 20% of the country’s carbon emissions between 2013-2020 (Ministry for Primary Industries, 2021a; Ministry for the Environment, 2022). However, despite the clear importance of forests for New Zealand, knowledge development, dissemination, and resourcing efforts are currently unable to fulfil the evolving needs of the forestry industry. This thesis critically assesses the governance of knowledge development, dissemination, and resourcing in the New Zealand forestry sector. It focuses on Māori and small-to-medium forest owners (SMFOs), who hold a large proportion of the national forest stock (Ministry for Primary Industries, 2020; New Zealand Forest Owners Association, 2019). Key relevant policy documents were identified, and a range of actors engaged in New Zealand’s forestry innovation system (FIS) were interviewed. The widely used Innovation System (IS) construct was applied as the conceptual framework, and interview and documentary data analysed using a structural-functional analysis framework, after Wieczorek and Hekkert (2012). The analysis reveals systemic problems for knowledge development, dissemination, and resource mobilisation that are consistent with those identified within the literature. New Zealand’s FIS can be broadly characterised as being fragmented, with little collective strategy or direction, and having a strong focus on existing systems and practices. These practices included norms such as low appetite for risk among investors, a preference for in-person interactions, and a high value placed on autonomy. The data also highlights that FIS actors tend to be disconnected from each other. Overall, knowledge and financial infrastructure is inadequately resourced and currently unable to fully support the diverse aspirations of New Zealand’s forest owners. There is a clear need for more translation of technical knowledge into accessible formats and improved infrastructure for information storage, management, and access. The systemic problems are often interlinked, with shared root causes that are long-standing and complex. The analytical framework enabled identification of systemic instruments that could mitigate these problems, including a national forest policy, broader industry and public engagement, and a resource prioritisation framework based on Treaty of Waitangi principles. The findings may inform and facilitate development of forest policy instruments that are innovative, conducive to deeper Treaty partnership, inclusive, environmentally and economically sustainable, and socio-culturally appropriate.