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ARC Centre for Forest Value Newsletter, March 2021

In our March newsletter, find out what's happening at the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Forest Value.

From our Director:

Welcome to the March edition of our newsletter for 2021.

Although 2021 marks the final year of the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Forest Value (CFV) we have a lot of research still ongoing with six PhD students expected to finish their projects this year.

We are continuing to see some great examples of research that provides impact for the forest industries. This newsletter highlights three examples of this research and the recognition that our Centre PhD candidates are receiving.

Our first story features the exciting developments in tree canopy sampling using drones. This work is being undertaken by Sean Krisanski who has been utilising his 2020 Science and Innovation Award from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to complete his project which you can read about below.

Michelle Balasso was also recently recognised for her PhD research investigating high value products from Tasmanian eucalypts. Michelle is one of two Australian nominations for an International Council of Forest and Paper Associations Blue Sky Award. We congratulate Michelle on this nomination and wish her luck at the international announcements.

Our final story focuses on Nick Camarretta who completed his PhD in 2020 and has secured a job as a research scientist in Germany. Nick’s work has provided the industry with a new way of assessing the success of forest restoration plantings using remote sensing. Nick’s work has also had a significant scientific impact, with a recent publication receiving a ‘highly cited’ rating.

We hope you enjoy reading about the Centre’s research and hearing about our PhD candidates’ achievements in this edition of the newsletter and we look forward to bringing you additional updates throughout the year.

Associate Professor Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra, Director ARC Training Centre for Forest Value

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Need foliar samples? Robots are rising to the challenge

ARC Centre for Forest Value PhD candidate Sean Krisanski has spent the last year designing and building drones to sample canopy leaves. The prototype shown here is sampling from a 30 metre tall Eucalyptus pulchella.

At the start of 2020, CFV PhD Candidate Sean Krisanski received a Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry from the Australian Government and Forest and Wood Products Australia(FWPA).

These awards provide $22,000 of funding for innovative research programs that benefit rural industries such as forestry.

Sean is approaching the end of his project which aimed to use drones to make canopy leaf sampling accessible by greatly reducing the cost, time and risk required.

“Foliar samples are important for understanding and monitoring tree nutrition and health. however, collecting these samples is currently challenging, dangerous and expensive. As a result, the use of canopy samples is often restricted to small trees which can be reached with pole saws or limited by the high costs and risks of arborist access.” Sean said.

‘While it may take an arborist in the order of 30 minutes to several hours to collect samples from a single tree, results from this research have shown that a drone can collect multiple samples from different locations in the tree in just minutes.”

Sean also highlighted that his project went beyond what had been previously demonstrated in drone studies.

“Our approach differs by enabling physical interaction with almost any part of the tree, not just the top. We are also building the capability to perform other physical interactions with the tree, such as deploying and retrieving Internet-of-Things devices in the canopy, that are used for wildlife and bushfire monitoring applications."

During the project Sean designed, constructed and tested drones and their specialised equipment in order to optimise their canopy sampling capabilities. Sean has finished the testing phase of the study and the results will soon be ready for publication.

To keep up-to-date with CFV outputs follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Michelle Balasso secures nomination for Blue Sky Innovation Award

ARC Centre for Forest Value PhD candidate Michelle Balasso processing and testing hardwood boards from plantation grown eucalypts

ARC Centre for Forest Value PhD Candidate Michelle Balasso was recently nominated for the Blue Sky Young Researchers Innovation Award.

The prestigious Blue Sky Awards are managed by the International Council of Forest & Paper Associations (ICFPA) and are presented every two years. Globally there are only 21 candidates nominated and from these, three winners are chosen by an international judging panel. The winners receive a cash prize and the opportunity to present their work at the ICFPA CEO global roundtable.

The two Australian nominations for the award are put forward by the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) who select nominees based on their contribution to research and development as well as candidates who are inspirational, interesting and advance the forest-based bio-economy.

Michelle was nominated for her research examining the quality of plantation grown hardwood boards and how this resource can be segregated, graded and used for structural products. As well as Michelle’s extensive work across Tasmania, her project has seen Michelle travel to Slovenia to develop a Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical treatment schedule for plantation hardwood timber. The treatment densifies the wood, making it potentially useful for a wider range of high value applications.

Commenting on her nomination, Michelle said “I am delighted to have been nominated to represent Australia in the Blue Sky Award. This is a fantastic opportunity to show how we can better utilise the precious forest resources that we have”.

“In general, correlations between most solid-wood and pulpwood traits were favourable, suggesting that past selection for pulpwood traits had neutral or favourable effects on many key solid-wood traits.”

Award winners will present their work to the International Council of Forest & Paper Associations’ CEO global roundtable at a virtual event on April 29th. For further information on the awards see https://icfpa.org/

More information about Michelle’s PhD studies can be found on the CFV website here

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Nick heads off after invaluable contribution to restoration ecology

Nicolò Camarretta (Nick) is now settled into his new research job in Germany after completing his PhD with the Centre for Forest Value (CFV). Nicks’ project adapted remote sensing techniques for use in assessing forest restoration and his work has provided a valuable contribution to the field.

Nick started his time with the CFV in 2016, arriving from Italy where he had worked as a research fellow at the Forest Geomatics Lab in Arezzo and completed his Master of Forestry at the University of Florence.

Nick was attracted to the project on offer from the CFV as he was interested in exploring and contributing to the field of ecological restoration.

“I developed a strong interest in forest inventories and remote sensing, and I quickly realized that these technological solutions could be employed to answer some of the current research questions in restoration ecology” Nick said.

Nicks’ PhD studies focused on the application of innovative remote sensing technologies in the fields of forest restoration and forest genetics as these technologies offer an efficient and cost-effective alternative to field sampling.

“New innovations in remote sensing allow us to acquire ultra-high-resolution data over large areas, offering unique opportunities to address key issues in restoration ecology such as monitoring restoration success by measuring structural complexity” he said.

Nick’s project used data from a restoration trial established at Dungrove, in the Midlands of Tasmania. This trial used seedlots of two eucalypt species (Eucalyptus pauciflora and E. tenuiramis) sourced from a wide variety of locations to test the effects of genetics and community composition on restoration success.

“During my project I used Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and hyperspectral data from sensors mounted on an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and used this to compare the structural and spectral traits of the various genetic provenances of the two eucalypt species. I was able to show, for the first time, that the genetic provenance of eucalypts can be detected using remote sensing technologies”.

Nick’s work showed the key role that genetics play in determining the structure and success of restoration plantings while at the same time demonstrating that remote sensing can be successfully applied to monitoring of ecosystem restoration. These finding will contribute to the effectiveness of future restoration plantings and monitoring.

Nick thoroughly enjoyed his time as a PhD student and noted that the community of researchers and industry partners at the CFV made his experience incredibly interesting.

“The benefit of working within the CFV was that it allowed me to disseminate my research in many national and international conferences and present my work to a wide variety of audiences”.

Nick also fondly remembers his time in Tasmania, particularly the relaxed lifestyle and stunning nature “I dearly enjoyed almost everything about Tasmania, and from the very beginning I started feeling a sense of belonging, as you would when thinking of home and it will always hold a special place in my heart, I would love to come back”.

Having completed his thesis Nick moved to Germany to start a two-year postdoctoral position working with a large international project based out of the University of Göttingen. Nick is currently using the expertise he developed in remote sensing to calculate the ecological and socio-economic characteristics of various forest types in Sumatra, Indonesia. Nick would be very keen to return to Australia sometime in the future, if a position became available.

Nick’s publication “Monitoring forest structure to guide adaptive management of forest restoration: a review of remote sensing approaches” published in New Forests in 2020 has recently been listed as a highly cited paper by Web of Science.

For more information about Nick’s work with the CFV see here.

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Selected research publications highlight talent

The Centre's research program is structured into three themes that span the forest products supply chain.

The Centre has had over 16 PhD candidates, three postdocs and numerous industry, academic, and affiliated researchers participating in the projects being undertaken by the ARC Centre for Forest Value. The three themes include:

  • Theme 1: Sustainable forest production and certification.
  • Theme 2: Products and manufacturing.
  • Theme 3: Supply chain integration and information management.

Publication highlights from these themes include:

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The ARC Training Centre for Forest Value (CFV) produces industry-ready graduates and postdoctoral fellows with broad perspectives of the forest industry.

The CFV is funded by the Australian Research Council and industry partners.

www.utas.edu.au/arc-forest-value

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Created By
Thomas Baker
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