Forestry Tasmania’s planning and operations are informed by science. This guides how our forests are harvested and regenerated, including the seed stock selected.
Consistent with approaches in the broader forest industry Forestry Tasmania has reduced its in-house research and development capacity in favour of collaborative approaches and works with external scientific, environmental and other forestry organisations. This partnering approach has enabled the research budget to be leveraged: contributing to larger projects to the benefit of both Forestry Tasmania and the partner organisations for lower costs and better overall outcomes than if they were conducted separately.
Forestry Tasmania has been working with the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) on its response to Myrtle Rust, which was discovered in Tasmania late in 2014. Forestry Tasmania has also been undertaking research on a tree improvement program, monitoring Ginger Tree syndrome and implementing an effective approach to thinning crowns, caused by leaf beetles.
Forestry Tasmania is a participant in the National Centre for Future Forest Industries (NCFFI). Some of the Centre’s key projects used logs from our plantations to evaluate their potential for use in high value sawn and engineered wood products. For example, veneers produced from our thinned and pruned Eucalyptus nitens plantations where shown to be suitable for the production of decorative ply sheets (as used in cabinetry) and curved ply (as used in furniture). These outcomes, along with those from other collaborative projects, will help build confidence that the plantation resource can supply products with a wide diversity of valuable applications.
Our major research projects in the past year have included:
- New approaches to sustainable forest management - a collaboration with UTas, University of Melbourne and VicForests with funding from the Australian Research Council through their linkage grants scheme. The research from this project will help us manage for the twin objectives of wood production and biodiversity. Advanced methods in decision-analysis and next-generation technologies for monitoring biodiversity will be brought together for the first time to clarify the rationale of management and measure how well that management is meeting these twin objectives.
- Silvicultural Systems Trial – a 10-year post-harvest response of birds, plant and beetles to harvesting methods alternative to the clearfell burn and sow harvest/regeneration method used in wet eucalypt forests.
- Warra Flux Tower and Supersite – Warra is the southern-most point of the Australia-wide Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) ongoing measurements of carbon, water and energy fluxes between the forest and atmosphere to help understand the carbon and water dynamics of a tall, wet E. obliqua forest and how those dynamics vary with weather, in particular, extreme weather events.
- Warra Hydrology Study - a planned harvest operation in Warra 004A is being used to verify the effectiveness of the Forest Practices Code prescriptions for protecting soil, water and biological values of Class 4 streams.
- Costs and benefits of forest biosecurity - a collaboration with University of Sunshine Coast and NSW DPI with co-funding by FWPA. The project will provide a number of case studies that comprehensively evaluate the costs of biosecurity measures and of managing established pests relative to benefits in greater wood value. Expertise in forest pathology, forest entomology and forest economics will be brought together to comprehensively analyse, as case studies, the full costs and benefits of managing several well-known pests and pathogens. It aims to provide a more knowledgeable basis for forest managers to make decisions on investment in biosecurity and pest management.
- E. globulus genetics trials. With Eucaluptus globulus (Tasmanian Blue Gum) becoming an increasing important plantation species for the production of high value products such as timber and veneer, a new collaborative project will harness genetics to deliver more productive trees to the plantations and higher value wood to processors. Forestry Tasmania, through collaboration with UTAS and the Southern Tree Breeding Association, is participating in an Australian Research Council co-funded project to investigate the genetics of E. globulus that affect characteristics important to the production of the high-value wood products from plantations. The genetic information will be utilised though traditionally based but highly sophisticated breeding activities. These activities will deliver the seeds for a new generation of plantations that are better adapted to future environments and wood product markets.