Lead Researchers: Dr Jim O'Hehir, Dianne Patzel

The Project

This project will review the current knowledge on silviculture and growth rates that impact wood properties and the utility of softwood and hardwood logs to a processor. This will identify current knowledge and any gaps in the knowledge to guide further research.

Industry Partners

The University of South Australia will collaborate with the following industry partners:

Green Triangle Forest Products, Hancock Queensland Plantations Pty Limited, Hancock Victorian Plantations Pty Ltd, OneFortyOne Plantations, SFM Asset Management, Timberlands Australia

Project Objectives

The objectives of the project are:

  • To better understand the impacts of silviculture on wood properties within a tree as these relate to utility of logs to a processor. This will include the attributes of a site, species grown, management of stands and individual trees. While this may be more critical for softwoods, there is also a need to better understand these relationships for hardwoods when considering alternative products and markets to the current woodchip trade.
  • To understand silvicultural interventions possible and the decision making processes for preestablishment, pre-commercial thinning and between commencement of thinning and final harvest (clear falling) actions. This will include technology to test with tree wood properties by non-destructive assessment strategies.
  • To understand and document the impact of stand and tree productivity on wood properties (‘quality’) and therefore potential products as a driver of value needs to be better understood. This requires development of a linkage between log wood properties and the price paid: the wood supply agreement between forest growers and processors.

Project Deliverables

The output is a report that:

  • For current and future trees, defines the known wood properties, matching products, market value indicators and identify any gaps.
  • Determine industry needs from the identified gaps including as assessment by a cross section of processors of what they regard as wood properties critical to them.
  • Review of current knowledge on how to address the gaps.
  • Define any gaps in the current knowledge.
  • Define industry’s ability to make use of improved knowledge.
  • Propose a strategic and forward-looking path to a sustainable national program for silvicultural research with a focus on defining the value outcomes of management interventions.
  • A review of current wood supply agreements and potential ‘benefit sharing’ arrangements between forest growers and processors.

Potential Impacts

  1. Documentation of wood property impacts as they relate to processors and markets leading to a clearer understanding and alignment of interests by all parties in current supply chains. This impact will be expressed as enhanced relationships between suppliers and customers.
  2. An improved awareness by of forest growers of impacts of productivity and silviculture on wood properties of their current (at different stages of development) and future crops allowing refinement of management to produce enhanced fit-for-purpose resources for processors. This outcome would be measured based on log volume supplied and MGP graded product outputs.
  3. Development of a statement of the link between wood properties and value. This insight will form a basis for development of price signals between processors and grower to encourage production of enhance fit-for purpose logs. The benefit will be measured based on increased supply of logs able to achieve a higher percentage of MGP graded boards.
  4. Development of protocols to develop bespoke silviculture targeting the needs of specific markets and the tools to implement such strategies in the field. This outcome can be measured by tool and protocol development and implementation in the field.
  5. To inform future research needs and to address currently unresolved issues, any gaps in the knowledge base of impacts of productivity and silviculture on wood properties, are to be documented. This outcome can be measured by production of a statement of research needs.
  6. In support of identified research needs, formulation of a proposal for a sustainable national program for silvicultural research with a focus on defining the value outcomes of management interventions.

using research equipment

Project Outcomes

  • A collation of current documented knowledge based on peer reviewed and grey literature. This will include the scientific basis of manipulation of wood properties by silviculture (and logically genetics and nutrient management as tools).
  • Collating processor needs regarding log attributes (external and internal, including wood properties) on a fit for purpose basis to current processing strategies and technology matched to market needs.
  • Development of methods to develop bespoke silvicultural prescriptions with a foundation in scientific understanding of wood properties.
  • Application of software systems to model and predict the outcomes of silvicultural interventions to guide development of bespoke silviculture. This will be done via the
  • Adaption of current tools to assess wood properties in standing trees as part of triggers to interventions towards target log outcomes.
  • Development of template wood supply agreement clauses relating to wood properties.