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Quick Six - March

Trees for steep erosion prone land report released

A report on alternative plantation forest species is now available on the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association website detailing the characteristics of a wide variety of tree species that are suited to steep erosion prone land and which have root structures that may better resist landsliding after harvest.

The report was written by Dean Satchell, of Sustainable Forest Solutions, and contributes to present industry considerations of how to lessen the vulnerability of trees now being planted for harvests decades in the future.

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Calm Design Device built with natural wood material

Mui’s calm design device built with natural wood that serves as a smart home control hub. Using the digital display that appears with a swipe of your hand, you can talk, send/receive messages, check the news and weather and control smart devices (lighting, thermostats, etc.) and more. When you are done, the display disappears, and the panel looks just like a piece of wood again. Mui doesn't constantly demand your attention as smartphones do. Mui is a “calm” device designed to create a relaxing, distraction-free digital environment, so you can enjoy quality time with your family.

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Ngati Hine Forestry Trust launched

Twenty young men from Kaikohe and Moerewa in the north of the North Island, New Zealand, are set to start their journey in the Forestry Industry as trainees on the new Ngā Māhuri o Ngāti Hine Mānuka Plantation Training Program.  This is the first part of a 2yr program funded by the Billion Tree fund through Te Uru Rākau and supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries Economic Development Unit. Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust is partnering with Johnson Contractors LTD to deliver a “learn while you earn” approach to L2 Forestry Training.  Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust Chair, Pita Tipene says “Ngā Māhuri o Ngāti Hine means the saplings of Ngāti Hine; this is an industry training program which embodies the kaupapa of Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust Mission – He Ringa Ahuwhenua, He Hanga Mahi, to actively grow our assets. These akonga (learners) are our hapū and community assets”.  Moreover, the planting of manuka is all about the Trust’s long-term strategy of a mosaic approach that will see the lands being returned to native cover.  The program will see our 2019 trainees plant approx. 200ha of Mānuka seedlings on Ngāti Hine lands. In 2020, a course will run with another 20 trainees to plant additional Ngāti Hine lands up to a total of 400+ ha.  Jack Johnson of Johnson Contractors is an experienced industry-based trainer. “Partnering with Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust is an exciting opportunity for us; trainees will strengthen their connection to Te Ao Maori, receive wrap around pastoral support and learn while they earn”.  Ngā Māhuri o Ngāti Hine was launched on Monday 4 March, 10am at Otiria Marae in Moerewa where trainees, whānau, partners and industry stakeholders gathered to celebrate the commencement of this new initiative located in the Mid North. 

Source: Friday Offcuts.

Tropical forests naturally regrow quickly, but without species variety

Forests recover growth in a few decades, but it may take centuries before the species diversity returns to the original composition, according to a study co-authored by Robin Chazdon of UConn. Credit: University of Connecticut.

An international team of ecologists inventoried trees in 1,800 tropical forest plots located in 56 sites across 10 countries in Latin America, and found that forests recover growth in a few decades, but that it may take centuries before the abundance of the species present returns to the what is found in old-growth forests. Secondary forests now make up as much as 28 percent of the land area in Latin America.

Tree species found in regrowing forests are usually different from those in neighbouring old-growth forest, according to the paper published in Science Advances. After 20 years of regrowth, only 34 percent of the original species composition recovered.

Researchers used plot data from secondary forests of different ages and compared it to neighbouring, well-conserved, old-growth forests. The team included UConn professor emerita of ecology and evolutionary biology Robin Chazdon, and colleagues across Europe and Latin America. 

"It is great news that natural regeneration can restore tree biodiversity relatively fast," says Chazdon. "However, targeted restoration actions for the introduction of typical old-growth species, as well as the conservation of old-growth forests, may be necessary to guarantee long-term conservation of tropical tree species."

This study has direct implications for forest restoration policies and practice. Natural forest regeneration has typically been viewed as an ecologically sound way to restore large areas of forest at lower costs compared to active tree plantings.

Natural forest regeneration may therefore be the ideal method to meet the goal to restore 350 million hectares of forest in 2030, as set under the Bonn Challenge.

But tropical forests, home to more than 53,000 tree species, account for 96 percent of the global tree diversity.

"While young secondary forests contribute importantly to biodiversity conservation in these modified landscapes, they do not contain many of the species found in well-conserved forests," says co-author Lourens Poorter, leader of the 2ndFOR network. "Both secondary and old-growth forests must be preserved to guarantee biodiversity conservation in human-modified landscapes."

Chazdon stresses that both secondary and old-growth forests are important for conserving biodiversity and providing resources for wildlife. Lead author Danaë Rozendaal, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, agrees.

"We were impressed to find that it takes only five decades, on average, to recover the total number of species found in well-conserved old-growth forests, and that within only 20 years, already 80 percent of the number of species is present," says Rozendaal. "This emphasizes the importance of secondary forests for biodiversity conservation in human-modified tropical landscapes."

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Termites mitigate effects of drought in tropical rainforests

Termites are commonly regarded as one of the most destructive insect pests, yet its unknown side was recently revealed by a major new study. Researchers have discovered that termites actually help mitigate against the effects of drought in tropical rainforests.

Dr Louise Ashton of the University of Hong Kong, with researchers from the University of Liverpool and the Natural History Museum, London, has discovered that termites actually help mitigate against the effects of drought in tropical rain forests.

Termites are highly abundant in tropical ecosystems. They are one of the few living creatures that can break down cellulose found in plant material. They create temporary above-ground protective structures called "sheeting" which allows them to move about in the forest even during drought conditions. They are thought to be important for soil processes including decomposing and soil moisture, however the roles of termites in these processes in tropical rainforest have not been fully quantified using real-world experiments. This is because it is quite difficult to suppress the activity of termites.

This large-scale experiment was established at the beginning of the 2015 El Nino drought and the team carried out the same experiments in 2016 during non-drought conditions. This allowed them to not only investigate the roles of termites in tropical rainforests, but also how drought influences termite activity and the knock-on effects in the ecosystem.

Working in a tropical rainforest in Malaysian Borneo, four 80 x 80 m termite suppression plots and four control plots in Maliau Basin Conversation Area were set up. The core team of researchers included Dr Louise Ashton from the University of Hong Kong, Dr Hannah Griffiths and Dr Kate Parr from the University of Liverpool, Dr Paul Eggleton from the Natural History Museum, London and Dr Theo Evans from the University of Western Australia. The researchers worked with a team of Malaysian research assistants to carry out regular field expeditions, which were around 3-month long. Over the course of the project they spent around 9 months in the field.

They found that the sites with termites saw an increase in the abundance of termites during the drought period, with fewer termites in the non-drought period. The greater number of termites during the drought resulted in higher rates of leaf litter decomposition and nutrient heterogeneity, and increased soil moisture and seedling survival rates compared with the non-drought period. 

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Complete world map of tree diversity

New statistical model eliminates blank spaces.

Researchers have succeeded in constructing, from scattered data, a world map of the diversity of tree species. Climate plays a central role for its global distribution; however, the number of species in a specific region also depends on the spatial scale of the observation, the researchers report. The new approach could help improve conservation.

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