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CRC for Forestry > Research programs > Managing and monitoring for growth and health

Managing and monitoring for growth and health

Program Manager: Don White

One of the key challenges for forest managers today is the capacity to turn increasing amounts of data and a myriad of technologies into valuable information and useful tools—preferably in the same package. This was the mission of Program One.

We recognised that forests are increasingly managed for a range of products and purposes. These include not only providing fibre and timber products but also water and carbon. We also acknowledged that forest management occurs within a social context. Consequently, we worked to understand how to optimise forest management and to appreciate the effects of different management approaches on more than one outcome or output. 


Scientists discussing yellowing symptoms in a pine plantation

Furthermore, as our national forest industries embraced new species planted in new environments where experience was limited, we also faced the uncertainties of a changing climate, recognising the need to make robust predictions based on an understanding of forest processes.

We recognised that, in order to successfully address this increased complexity in our forests, we must maximise the value we could derive from operating in an information-rich and technology-rich age. 

Due to all of these considerations, our research effort in Program One focused on questions that helped us develop a much deeper understanding of the forest estate. This included how particular site and tree characteristics affect growth and resource use in both the short and long term. We also explored and developed appropriate methods and economically viable technologies to help us better measure characteristics of interest, to assess forest condition and to alert managers to changes in that condition.

From these advances in process understanding and through improved capacity to capture forest metrics and describe forest condition over time, we worked to predict outcomes and test scenarios that could not be tested experimentally. Scenarios of interest explored  responses to site factors such as soils and topography, climatic variables such as temperature and rainfall, stochastic events including pest or disease attack, or silvicultural management such as thinning and pruning.

The primary research effort of Program One was conducted within appropriate modelling frameworks that ensured individual experiments and projects provided data and outputs that were compatible across the breadth of the research effort.  The modelling approach provided a unifying context for the work, a suitable method for further hypothesis formulation and testing, and a robust and consistent structure from which to develop useful outputs.

Finally, and critically, models and modelling outputs were built into decision-support platforms to meet the needs of future forest managers. In this effort, cross-program collaboration was essential to the delivery of useful tools to industry and other stakeholders.

Our program was structured into four research projects—each project addressed one or more of the themes described above:

Read about some activities in these projects and subprojects in The Monitor 5 (April 2009). ­


Dr Don White
Tel: +61 8 9333 6693

Underwood Avenue
Perth, WA 6913