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Future Forests Research Forecaster Development Continues

Forecaster enhancement continues with the release of Version 1.10. Forecaster is one of the tools we are using to make research results available to our Members in a form that they can use to make better forest management decisions.

The key features that have been added to the latest version of Forecaster are the capability to model longer rotations and genetic improvement. A feature that required previous stand history has also been changed to make Forecaster easier to use where previous silvicultural records are not available. An economic analysis module has also been added.

The ability to model longer rotations and higher stockings than are normal forest management practice today has been added due to the interest in identifying forest regimes that maximise carbon yield. Researchers at Scion have identified growth plots that are at the extremes of stocking and age and have used the data from these plots to extend the useable range of the 300 Index, the growth model used to predict the productivity of Radiata pine throughout NZ. The model can now make reliable predictions for rotations of up to 80 years and for stockings up to 1500 stems per hectare.

The other change to Forecaster is the ability to incorporate genetic improvement into forecasts of growth and yield. The user can specify the level of genetic improvement in terms of GFplus rating and this is taken into account in 300 Index predictions of future growth and branching pattern which, in turn, influences the quality of the final crop. The ability of Forecaster to determine density for sites throughout the country from a density surface is an added feature that allows users to more accurately predict future yield.

The other addition to Version 1.10 is an economic analysis module. Whilst many forest owners have their own tools for undertaking economic evaluations, the economics module enables other users to undertake basic economic evaluations for a range of management alternatives.

Forecaster continues to be developed to improve its ease of use and to incorporate other research outcomes as they become available from the FFR programme. A further version, Version 1.11 is expected to be released in October.