The College of New Caledonia is getting $1 million to create a long-term industrial research chair in forest health, whose fact-findings could help the forestry industry.

The school has collaborated with the regional forest industry in central BC to create the position, and the five-year grant is being funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research council.

Richard Reich will be the chair. He’s a CNC Natural Resources and Environmental Technology instructor and has 26 years experience researching forest anatomy. His new responsibilities include leading research on things like stem rust diseases, something that makes wood very brittle. Diseases like these are rapidly growing in parts of BC and causing major headaches in the forestry industry.

“We want to use all that information that we do collect (on disease, wood sustainability and durabilty) to understand where the rust is bad, how it will likely change over time as things like climate change actually change the favourability of the local climate,” he says.

The research started at the beginning of the summer, and he’ll be analyzing his findings during the winter.

He hopes his research can find some of the more resistant pines strains for industrial use. He, CNC staff, and select students will work with forest companies and sciences, from government and other post-secondary schools to develop tools battle things like stem rust and other diseases.

CNC will also get $100,000 from the school’s Research Forest Society, $160,000 from industry partners, and $2 million in-kind from other partners over that time.