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Forestry ScientistAlternative titles

Kaipūtaiao Ngahere

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Forestry Researcher
Plant Breeder (Forestry)

Forestry scientists research forest growth, wood processing, conservation and different types of trees and how these can be used.

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733

What are the chances of getting a job?


Chances of getting a job as a forestry scientist are good due to a shortage of people training in the role.

Forestry science is a small industry in New Zealand; however, there is still a shortage of qualified forestry scientists because universities are not producing enough graduates to meet demand.

As a result, the job appears on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled forestry scientists from overseas to work in New Zealand.

Government investment in forestry contributing to demand for forestry scientists

Under its Primary Growth Partnership scheme, the Government is investing increasing amounts in agriculture and forestry research and innovation to help drive economic growth. This scheme started off with $30 million allocated for 2009/10, increasing to to $70 million per year for 2012 and 2013.

Forestry scientists are needed to help with research projects funded by this and other schemes.

Types of employers

Forestry scientists can work for:

  • Crown research institutes (CRIs), such as Scion and Landcare Research
  • universities
  • government agencies, such as the Department of Conservation and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
  • private sector companies, such as environmental research institutes and firms doing forestry research.


  • Carter, D, 'Growing Forestry', 12 August 2010, (www.beehive.govt.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Long-term Skill Shortage List', accessed September 2011, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Manley, B, head of school, New Zealand School of Forestry,Careers New Zealand interview, September 2011.
  • Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2011 Occupation Data', (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2011.
  • Ministry for Primary Industries, 'Primary Growth Partnership', accessed September 2011,(www.mpi.govt.nz).
  • Richardson, B, general manager science, Scion, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2011.

Current vacancies

General Manager Listed: 15 Dec 2014 Auckland

Other vacancy websites

Progression and specialisations

Forestry scientists with a Bachelor's degree typically start work at the technician level. Technicians may progress into research scientist positions after getting a Masters or PhD in the relevant science area.

Once you have a PhD, you can apply for a postdoctoral fellowship at research organisations or universities. You may need to do two or three postdoctoral fellowships (usually lasting two or three years each) before getting a permanent scientist position.

After several years experience, scientists can progress into senior research scientist, team leader or management roles.

Forestry scientists may specialise in an area of forestry sciences such as biotechnology, forest technology, pulp and paper, wood processing or wood quality.

How many people are doing this job?

No numbers available

A close up picture of a forestry scientist looking at a sample in a container.

Experienced forestry scientists are in demand

Updated 3 Dec 2014