Jeff Schnell Reports Back on Future Forest Research Progress

PF Olsen is a substantial contributor to Future Forests Research (FFR), both through funding and through in-kind assistance. Research is split into several themes – Radiata Management, Diverse Species, Environment and Social, and Harvesting and Logistics. Jeff Schnell, (pictured left) senior consultant at PF Olsen, is on the Technical Steering Team for the Radiata Theme. The Team met recently and Jeff reports on projects underway or planned for the coming year:

  • Further development of the Productivity Surface Maps. The current version of the map allows the user to obtain an estimate of site index and 300 index by clicking anywhere on a map of New Zealand; it's deployed in Forecaster (in the Site module). We also now have a GIS layer implemented and there are plans to develop a surface map of wood properties as well. This tool is very useful for feasibility studies of new afforestation projects.
  • Integrated growth and quality models. Up until now, we've been able to predict tree growth pretty well, but quality prediction has been restricted to branch size and, recently, density and stiffness. This has been done using various disjointed models. Toward the end of the year, we should have a new integrated model system that can predict growth in size, branch distributions, stem shape and various wood properties along the stem and between individual trees. This is likely to be deployed first in Forecaster, but also in YTGen (the yield analysis tool) eventually. Since Forecaster models tending, this tool will enable us to model impacts of silviculture on wood properties to a greater extent than ever before.
  • Addition of Redwood, Cypress and Eucalypt models into Forecaster. These models currently exist separately in various forms and have limited applicability. This project will bring them into a common framework within Forecaster. Plans are also in place to simplify parts of the Forecaster application, to make it easier to use.
  • Evaluation of RapidEye for detecting pine needle diseases. RapidEye satellite imagery has shown promise for improving harvest markups (monitoring the progress of harvesting). Work is underway to see if it can also detect certain needle disease levels. If successful, this would increase its utility and make the technology more cost-effective.
  • Tech transfer workshops. Several workshops are planned over the next year. Topics include: Silviculture, Productivity, Resource Assessment and Wood Quality. The idea is to demonstrate the practical application of the newly developed tools and research findings in forest management. It's envisaged that participants will bring along their own data, and solve actual problems.