• John Luxton
Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control

Forest Research Institute, Rotorua

Barry Ashwin, Chairman of Forest Research Forest Research Board members, Bryce Heard, Chief Executive of Forest Research Mr Johnny Lepper, Deputy Mayor of Rotorua Parliamentary colleagues Hon Max Bradford, Hon Tony Ryall, Hon Georgina Te Heu Heu, and Murray McLean

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for the opportunity to officially open this new Forest Research Quarantine Facility today. It's a pleasure to be here.

This state-of-the-art facility is the only one of its kind in New Zealand. It is one of the first facilities to meet MAF's new plant pest quarantine standards, and it is a significant investment in an area of strategic importance to the forestry sector.

I understand that the new facility will provide two main services: · A plant pest diagnostic laboratory, which will identify insect and fungal pathogens that have been intercepted at our borders, and · invertebrate quarantine containment rooms which will be used to rear pests in containment to develop control methods, or to rear natural enemies for the control of forest pests already in New Zealand.

The discovery last week of the painted apple moth in Glendene, clearly demonstrates the ever present risk our forestry and horticultural industries face. This new facility will provide the forest industry with the best quarantine services available in New Zealand.

In the campaign against white-spotted tussock moth, Forest Research's quarantine facility and its staff were the key to the success of the eradication programme. The behind-the-scenes efforts of Forest Research staff showed considerable dedication. However, the white-spotted tussock moth episode, combined with MAF's new plant pest quarantine standard, highlighted Forest Research's need for better, more spacious facilities.

The response was Board approval of $400,000 for new facilities.

New Zealand's technical capability in forest health and biosecurity is almost entirely concentrated at Forest Research, through forest health specialists and supporting collections, databases and literature. Its a reflection of your historically strong links with the sector.

Through a combination of forest industry support and your technical expertise, effective responses have been made to both biosecurity emergencies and long-term strategies in New Zealand.

In addition, Forest Research has recently purchased the Forest Health Surveillance group from MAF. This group supplies a range of services aimed at early detection of forest pests and diseases, including assessments for forest owners of the health status of their forests. This expertise will further enhance your significant contribution to New Zealand's forest health services.

As trade increases, and as our trading partners seek to impose biosecurity based trade barriers, we need to work hard to maintain the health of our $2.6 billion forest industry.

Clearly, Forest Research's ability to provide such services will be greatly enhanced by the investment in these new facilities. I commend Forest Research for your commitment to forest health and biosecurity which this new facility clearly demonstrates.