From our Director:
WELCOME to the final edition of our newsletter for 2020, a year that will be etched in our minds for many reasons.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, our team here at the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Forest Value, has continued to forge ahead in our research, partnerships and stakeholder engagement.
I'd like to congratulate our PhD students, who have embraced different ways to do their research and engage with industry and key stakeholders. This year really was about doing things virtually and that ensured our research has continued to be showcased on a global scale.
One of our good news stories for the year, is how researchers at the Centre created a more efficient seed zoning system for Tasmania’s native forest regeneration, which has been officially adopted by Sustainable Timber Tasmania. You can read more below about what this new zoning system means for one of our key partners and and how their Forest Management Services Manager Dr Dean Williams believes the system is leading to more efficient management.
In continuing to embrace this virtual world, six of our PhD students shared their exciting research journeys through free online seminars last month, with more than 60 participants taking advantage of the opportunity to ask questions about their research. This was a great option in place of our annual showcase evening for the Centre, and we thank everyone who joined us online and engaged with our students.
For American PhD student Kent Davis, Tasmania has left a lasting impression. Kent and his family adopted Tasmania as their second home, leaving Oregon life behind. We have been very fortunate to have Kent join our Centre and his research into methods to increase the efficient utilisation of hardwood timber to produce high-value products, have been well supported by industry.
Our final story for this edition highlights the important work of PhD student, Michelle Balasso, who presented at the 63rd SWST International Society of Wood Science and Technology conference recently. Michelle said the opportunity to place Tasmania in the global spotlight was exciting, you can read more below.
Last month, one of the Centre's PhD students Mihai Neagoe was profiled in the Australian Forests & Timber News (page 23) on his research into addressing port congestion. Well done Mihai on your industry collaboration with TasPorts, who have supported the research.
Thank you for your continued support and we trust you enjoy this edition of our newsletter. From the entire team at the Centre for Forest Value, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. Bring on 2021.
Associate Professor Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra, Director ARC Training Centre for Forest Value
New seed zoning adopted by Sustainable Timbers Tasmania
A MORE efficient seed zoning system for Tasmania’s native forest regeneration, developed by the ARC Training Centre for Forest Value, has been officially adopted by Sustainable Timber Tasmania.
Seed zones guide where seed is sourced from in the regeneration of native forests and researchers at the University of Tasmania-based Centre have identified 14 new seed zones. These have replaced the previous 61 discrete seed zones that were based on difference in location, altitude, dryness and coldness.
Centre for Forest Value Director Associate Professor Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra said the new seed zones are a great example of scientific knowledge being turned into practical policy and shows how the Centre provides value to its industrial partners.
“The Centre for Forest Value researchers have been working closely with Sustainable Timber Tasmania on this project and this is a fantastic outcome where collaborative research has improved the application of seed choice for forest regeneration,” Associate Professor O’Reilly-Wapstra said.
Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s Forest Management Services Manager Dr Dean Williams said the new seed zone information was integrated into their GIS system, which has expanded scope for seed sourcing for forest regeneration; leading to more efficient management.
“Through the Centre for Forest Value we had access to scientists that are globally at the forefront of this area of research and were able to engage them on this particular project,” Dr Williams said.
“The scientific understanding of the environmental drivers for plant adaptation has become more refined in recent years and in parallel there has been great improvements in how that knowledge can be applied geographically through computer models.
“What we have been able to achieve in partnership with the Centre is a paradigm shift in the application of the seed zones for forest regeneration.”
Dr Williams said thanks to the Centre’s engagement there is a short path from scientific discovery to operational implementation.
“The Centre for Forest Value provides us with the intellectual muscle to continuously improve our operations and we have great engagement with their researchers, staff and students,” he said.
“That rapport means we can be quickly on the same page when it comes to expressing the research needs of our organisation and developing a path to the implementation of solutions.
“There is also a flip side to this, in that career researchers and students in the university system have access to real-world situations where their talents can be applied, and the impacts can be seen.”
Centre Director Associate Professor O’Reilly Wapstra agreed.
“This has been a fantastic outcome from our engagement with Sustainable Timber Tasmania and we will continue to work in partnership on future research in forest management,” Associate Professor O’Reilly Wapstra said.
“We are looking forward to expanding this work to include other tree species and continue the climate-related research that we do.”
Dr Williams said the next collaboration will see Sustainable Timber Tasmania look at the challenges imposed by climate change.
“As a land manager there is still a lot to learn about how our forests are going to respond to climate change, and our next collaborative project will examine the genetic diversity of our forest trees to see how they might respond to a changing environment,” he said.
“That information will further inform our forest management practices.”
Students share research insights through free online sessions
SIX Centre for Forest Value PhD candidates shared their exciting research journeys through free online seminars held last month.
More than 60 participants joined the students online and took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions about their research.
Centre Director Associate Professor Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra said the Centre holds an annual event to showcase the year and was pleased the online platform worked well.
“The sessions were a great way to showcase the amazing work of our PhD students and the research taking place at the Centre, which has been producing industry-ready graduates and postdoctoral fellows with broad perspectives of the forest industry since 2016,” Associate Professor O’Reilly-Wapstra said.
“We appreciate everyone's time who took part in these sessions, which enabled the students to highlight some important milestones they have reached during their PhD research"
Presenting students included:
Rose Brinkhoff – Nitrogen fertiliser increases leaf area but may create carbon and water costs in Eucalyptus nitens.
Vilius Gendvilas – Thinning effects on wood properties of plantation-grown Eucalyptus nitens.
Michelle Balasso – Wood quality and segregation systems: the potential for solid wood products from Eucalyptus nitens plantations
Kent Davis – Utilisation of sawn timber from plantation resources for appearance applications – a simulated yield perspective.
Mihai Neagoe – Data-driven insights on port congestion.
Sean Krisanski – Simple measurement extraction from a complex forest: Towards the fully automated measurement of forests using deep learning and remote sensing techniques.
Tasmania leaves lasting impression for American student
Michelle places research in global conference spotlight
CENTRE for Forest Value PhD students are continuing to share their research across the globe, with Michelle Balasso presenting at the 63rd SWST International Society of Wood Science and Technology conference recently.
This year’s theme for the online conference was Renewable Resources for a Sustainable and Healthy Future, which attracted 656 participants from 58 countries and was held online for the first time.
Michelle presented on timber densification, which was the result of a short-term scientific mission she undertook in Slovenia last year.
She said the two-week mission was sponsored by the SWST, which supported her research at the InnoRenew CoE laborartories into the effects of Thermo-Hydro Mechanical Treatments on native and planted Tasmanian wood species.
“Some highlights of the work are the effects of the densification on a commonly fibre-grown eucalypt species, E. nitens, which after THM treatment has shown an increase in basic density of 53 per cent, and remarkable improvement in both stiffness and strength,” she said.
“The results on the P. radiata and Tas Oak wood samples were interesting too, confirming a much less dimensional stability of the P. radiata, and as expected high final strength and stiffness for the other eucalypt species mixture forming the Tas Oak samples.”
Michelle said the opportunity to place Tasmania in the global spotlight was exciting.
“Tasmania as a ‘far-away-land’ captures the attention per se, and being able to showcase the research that’s done here and the opportunities available, feels like we’re paying something back to the marvellous nature of this island and its resources,” she said.
“We are collaborating with InnoRenew CoE team to highlight this interesting study which has received considerable exposure and generated interest especially among the researchers working in the area and among the Tasmanian industry.”
Michelle's work was recently published in Forests, you can view the paper here.
For the past few months, Michelle has been based in an engineering workshop, testing timber for her PhD. This involved more than six tons of E. nitens sawn boards.
“The sawn material comes from a resource I am working on since 2018 and it is part of the core long-term study that I designed at the beginning of my PhD,” Michelle said.
“This last part of measurements and testing has been designed to provide information on the wood quality of sawn boards from E. nitens trees. The boards were all quantitatively assessed to measure their characteristics as well as their mechanical properties.
“I worked with the engineering team on the design and preparation of the machinery to test long and substantial pieces of wood in the most appropriate way, ending up with a testing equipment which will benefit future researchers involved with material properties testing.”
For more information on Michelle’s research click here.