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Programme one newsletter: The Monitor - Issue one

Newsletter of the Managing and Monitoring for Growth and Health
research programme of the CRC for Forestry


From the programme manager

Michael Battaglia

Merry Christmas to you all. Congratulations on being part of what has to be one of the most exciting research and development programmes in Australian, if not world, forestry. The time of politicking, of deal making and weasel words is now past - at last it is action.

We have set ourselves some real challenges for the next seven years (…the clock is ticking, 6.5 years remaining). Given the time frame, the funding and the opportunity, this is appropriate. If we pull off the full scope of Programme One we will have changed the face of forestry - we will be using process-based models to predict products, pest impacts and guide vegetation management, we will have integrated remote sensing into our forest health and condition assessment, our LiDAR interpretation tools will be a key component of forest assessment, we will be sampling the soils with new tools and using transfer function and GIS to produce spatial coverage of key land attributes, we might even be able virtually fly-through, fly-over or burrow beneath our forests of today and the simulated forests and forest landscapes of tomorrow to assess sustainability, guide management or promote dialogue. This wealth of relevant information will make forestry a less risky, more efficient enterprise in which targeted and calibrated silvicultural inputs and site selection reduce the potential for adverse environmental impact and may contribute to benefits such as carbon sequestration, improved biodiversity and improved water quality (see the Programme One milestones and project objectives here).

At our disposal we have a wealth of talent. Utilising this talent and working across our organisation boundaries will be as great a challenge as our science goals. I would suggest that for the first time in 14 years we have a true CRC - in the sense that it is no longer a collection of projects run by different organisations contributing to a common set of outcomes, but rather different organisations contributing to the same projects to bring about substantial outcomes that probably would not have been within the reach of any one organisation. We have significant in-kind contribution of great talent from CSIRO/Ensis, University Melbourne, Forestry Tasmania, State Forests New South Wales, Murdoch University, and the University of Tasmania. On top of that we have some of the most innovative and active forestry companies in Australia giving us in-kind time for guidance and technical support. View the in-kind list (only members of the CRC for Forestry will be able to download this document. Members will need to register for access to the members' website)

The Monitor, the CRCF members' website, face-to-face and electronically mediated meetings are ways we can work togethe­r. So far we have had some really good start-up meetings around the country. I am also hoping that we can all get together at the first CRC Annual General meeting sometime in 2006. I look forward to the excitement these meetings will generate as we start to gather our data and argue the toss about what is going on.

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What's on

From a programme point of view the really significant events in the next few months are:

  1. The Programme Science Review (only members of the CRC for Forestry will be able to download this document from the members' website). David Whitehead, from Landcare Research has agreed to be our science reviewer and mentor. David has written a short piece for our first external perspective for The Monitor.
  2. New staff appointments and PhD student start-ups. Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for PhD candidates! We have additional places for PhDs across our projects.
  3. Formalisation of project plans.
    View the project plans of project 1.1, project 1.2 and project 1.3 (only members of the RP1 research programme will be able to download this document from the members' website).
  4. Establishment of project steering committees and project coordination committees, and user groups on the CRC website. Read about the roles of programme and project committees (only members of the CRC for Forestry will be able to download this document from the members' website).

Monitoring science news

A decade-long weed control study by CRC researchers has found that, for effective weed control, competition for light should be minimised, weed control methods should take into account the availability of water and nutrients, as well as the requirements for these resources by different tree species. This analysis indicated that competition was most severe on the drier sites, and that total weed control was rarely more beneficial than strip control.

This report outlines the main findings of a weed control study and its implications for management. Read on... (Only members of this research programme will be able to download this document. Programme members will need to register for access to the members' website). Members can also download the 1999 report here.

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Project news

Project planning meeting in Perth, Western Australia, for projects 1.2.1 and 1.3

The first six months of project activity has seen research scientists getting together for face to face meetings to work out project plans and plan field experiments.

The sub-project teams for 1.1.1 ‘site evaluation’ and 1.1.2 ‘remote sensing’ combined with sub-project 1.2.2 ‘measuring and managing forest health’ in a field trip with a short stay in prison along the way.

Read more about the 1.1 'monitoring and measuring' stay in prison.

Read more about recent activity in 1.1.1 'site evaluation'.

The forest inventory sub-project, 1.1.3, has commenced work defining forest height algorithms and had a recent ‘win’ defining stream courses. Read more about 1.1.3 'remote sensing of forest inventory'.

The sub-project 1.2.1 team ‘Sustaining site productivity’ has been sorting out field sites and collecting data from useful pre-existing experimental sites. Read more about 1.2.1 'managing site resources' .

Project 1.3 ‘modelling and information integration’ has been working with industry partners to refine project activities and place project work within the broader context of weed and competing vegetation work within Australasia. The big picture has been mapped out. Read more about 1.3 'modelling and information integration' .

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ARC project news

Project progress by Tony O'Grady (November 2005), covering hyrdraulic conductance, sap flow, fine root respiration, what's happening over summer, papers cited, papers in progress and other communications. Download here (Only members of the CRC for Forestry will be able to download this document. Members will need to register for access to the members' website).

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Industry insights

For the next edition feel free to provide an industry perspective (a short piece) on science or practise relevent to project activities. Please send your submission ideas to Michael Battaglia.

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Quips, comments and questions

For the next edition feel free to send in short comments about project, programme or industry activity that will be of interest to programme members. Comment could cover, for example, changes that are happening in industry practises, interesting applications or outcomes from programme work, or stories about people we all know. Please send your submission ideas to Michael Battaglia.

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Guest spot

Commentary by RP1 science reviewer David Whitehead, 6 December 2005

Research Programme One, consisting of the three projects, spans an impressive range of activity to provide tools to monitor, interpret and predict the environmental processes regulating sustainable productivity in Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus. This effort is clearly relevant to the forest industry but the broader importance of the findings for other land-use concerns, including water availability, erosion control, carbon sequestration and biodiversity, could be recognised to add further support for the programme.

The overall success of this programme will be dependent on a commitment by all those involved to a process-based framework that incorporates appropriate scaling procedures from leaves to plantations. Each component must be undertaken with the clear objective of its contribution to the framework. Central to this is the development and testing of models, since these define the parameters that need to be obtained and provide the capability for spatial and temporal scaling. This approach is implicit throughout the descriptions of the projects, and the team is well respected for its leading contribution in the development of models including 3PG and CABALA. However, more formal reference to the underlying process-based framework would provide linkages across the components, focus research activity and strengthen the perceived capability of success.

This programme deserves long-term funding commitment to ensure that the objectives are achieved and the completion of project milestones will be critical for monitoring progress. Interpreting inter-annual variability in relation to climate drivers for long-term prediction, consideration of uncertainty associated with estimates of productivity and forest health will be very valuable additional contributions. Close association with other projects relating productivity to wood quality also needs to be ensured to maximise the benefit of the findings to the forest industry.

The calibre of the team is highly regarded internationally and major scientific contributions from this work are anticipated. It is encouraging to note the large number of postgraduate students and emerging scientists that will contribute to this programme. There is good opportunity to provide rigorous training and development of new skills while providing the forest industry with useful tools for future management planning.