A NZ$11m research project aimed at overcoming prejudices against radiata pine could boost the value of New Zealand’s forestry production by 25%.

The Wood Quality Initiative, supported by the government and 14 forestry organisations, believes the prices of the best radiata could be lifted to equal the high-value North American ponderosa.

The industry’s annual NZ$5bn revenue could be boosted by NZ$410m from new market opportunities by segregating radiata according to its best uses and by NZ$62m from optimum allocation of logs and chips. These two changes are estimated to increase forest values by NZ$700m.

Fletcher Challenge Forests and Carter Holt Harvey are cornerstone shareholders in the new limited liability company and will each invest about NZ$250,000 a year. Total industry investment of NZ$1.125m a year will be matched by the government.