It was with great surprise and sadness to learn of the death recently (22/3/2013) of New Zealand friend, blackwood scientist and farm forestry advocate Ian Nicholas at the age of 59.
I only got to know Ian personally in the last 10 years but in that time I developed a great respect and appreciation for his immense knowledge and understanding, but also for his quite strength and determination. He was a tremendous advocate for broadening the range of commercial tree species grown in New Zealand including blackwood. His determination and hard work provided much of the momentum and progress in the small world of plantation blackwood.
Over many decades Ian provided the New Zealand focus and did much of the research that helped turn blackwood from an unruly opportunity into a commercial reality. With Ian’s help New Zealand farmers have mastered the art of growing commercial blackwood, and are now starting to reap the benefits. In 2002, in conjunction with Ian Brown he wrote the plantation blackwood bible, the Growers Handbook, while in the past few years he took on the role of managing the New Zealand blackwood growers group (AMIGO).
On his last visit to Tasmania in May 2011 Ian, together with two Chilean forest scientists and blackwood experts, were on a fact-finding mission to see what we were doing with blackwood. They left Tasmania realising that they knew far more about growing blackwood than we do. Ian was disappointed with where the forest industry had got to in Tasmania. I wrote an article about it in Tasmanian Times. It was Ian’s visit that pushed me to develop the Growers Cooperative proposal.
Ian was very supportive of my proposal to establish a blackwood growers cooperative in Tasmania.
My dream was that one day I would enjoy Ian’s company as he showed me around the blackwood highlights of New Zealand. Sadly that dream will never be realised.
Thank you for your support and friendship Ian.
Rest in Peace.