Future Forests Research Update: Forecaster

The Forecaster modelling framework has been developed by Future Forests Research (FFR) to deploy science outputs in a form that is usable for forest growers. The tool will allow the planner to model the interactions of genetics, site and management practices on grade outturn (m3/ha) at specified rotation lengths. The outputs of this modelling process will, in turn, allow the user to simulate the processing of logs into end products. The framework will allow the forest manager to assess which combination off genetics and management practices will maximise financial return for a given site.

Improvements to the Forecaster tool are undertaken on a regular basis as new science outcomes become available from the forest growing research programmes and/or feedback is received from users.

Usability issues are given high priority by FFR and a number of modules have been developed to simplify key modelling processes including:

  • Assessment of Site Index and 300 Index - the user can generate Site Index and 300 Index estimates for any site in New Zealand by locating the site on a map with a cursor.
  • Yield Table Generator - the user can very quickly develop yield tables on a single screen.
  • Silvicultural Scheduler - a prototype tool that will allow the user to schedule thinning and pruning.
  • Practical Advice Decision Support Tool - this tool allows the user to incorporate business rules into the modelling process. An example would be the decision by a grower not to grow Radiata pine above 450 m a.s.l. The modelling process forces the user to identify the position of the forest site to be modelled. The above business rule raises a flag and alerts the user to this rule.

Over the next two months the following additions will be made to the Forecaster tool:

  • The Douglas fir growth model.
  • Extending the 300 Index growth model to allow modelling of longer rotations up to 80 years.
  • Extending the 300 Index growth model to model final crop stockings up to 2,000 stems per hectare.

It is FFR members and their clients that have access to the benefits conferred in delivering new research outcomes in the form of advanced modelling tools such as Forecaster.