Regional Australia Research

ACHIEVING MORE SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT

Forest science regional Australia researchForest science students at Blue Knob eucalypt forest, north of Lismore campus.

Overview of Projects

The Forest Research Centre’s location in the subtropical Northern NSW positions it well to undertake research-based and innovative approaches to sustainable management of our forest resources in Regional (subtropical and tropical) Australia.

Our research covers a breadth of topics related to forest resources including evaluating management regimes for mixed species plantations, domestication of native tree species, exploring bio and carbon economy opportunities, environmental services provided by reforestation, computer modeling for forest management, new products from trees, forest genetics and community engagement in land use planning.

In the realm of forest health, we collaborate on studies into the serious local problem of Bell Miner Associated Dieback (BMAD) on the wet eucalypt forests of northern NSW, as well as research on forest ecology, management of forest birds, marsupials and amphibians, and threatened species conservation.

Beneficiaries of our Projects

  • Forestry and agricultural practitioners
  • Small-scale farm forestry practitioners – “tree changers” interested in managing their land for a range of biodiversity and sustainable timber production outcomes
  • Consultants
  • Community groups and government agencies involved in restoration projects
  • Southern Cross University students and staff and collaborators from other Universities, government departments, NGOs and the private sector forging strong partnerships and information sharing
A typical silver quandong tree in a well-managed stand at Nashua northern NSW - 767-1023

A typical silver quandong tree in a well-managed stand at Nashua northern NSW.

During 2018 at the SCU Forest Research Centre and in collaboration with the Quality Timber Traders co-operative, we have been busy harvesting and sawing silver quandong (Eleaocarpus grandis) and Queensland maple (Flindersia braleyana) trees grown in plantations. A project funded in part by The Farming Together initiative of the federal government.

The small wood lots are to be found scattered through northern NSW and south east Queensland and together comprise 480 Ha. Or at least that’s what we able to find. Many plantings were sponsored in part by the Environmental Trust Fund operating during the late 90’s, and included up to 16 different species native to the subtropics of eastern Australia have been planted in the mixed stands.

The stands sampled were around 20 years old and produced merchantable volumes of approximately 1.4m3 and 0.8m3 per stem for each species. A hectare provided on average around 70 stems all up, of merchantable sized pieces, although this varied substantially dependent on each farmers approach.

Due to the distributed nature of the resource, our project focussed on portable processing equipment. A small bandsaw mill and our own glass house style solar kiln with photovoltaic panels to run the air circulation fans, proved effective means of processing. We looked at larger portable mills, and these were far less labour intensive albeit a bit more expensive to buy.

A stand out result of the work is the value of mixed agroforestry farm management. The advantages of reafforestation, wood production, carbon sequestration habitat restoration were all equally and highly valued by growers. A view into the future of forest landscape management.

Logs sawn using a NORWOOD LT10 band saw mill - 820-615

Logs sawn using a NORWOOD LT10 band saw mill.

 

Fully portable solar kiln with fans powered by photovoltaic panels - 820-526

1462 Fully portable solar kiln with fans powered by photovoltaic panels that produce almost a kilowatt at 24 volts.