The research projects leading our industry into the future

The ARC Centre for Forest Value was established to train industry-ready graduates and build research capability within the Forest and Wood Products industry.

Senior Research Officer, Dr. Thomas Baker, said the Centre aimed to provide answers to research questions generated by the forest industry.

“We are currently partnered with eight industry organisations who we work closely with to determine which research questions would help them,” he said.

“We want to help organisations further improve their operations and their ability to manage forests and utilise the resources that come from them.”

Currently, the Centre is running 11 PhD projects and numerous other projects across three themes. The themes include: ‘Sustainable Forest Production and Certification’, ‘Products and Manufacturing’ and ‘Supply Chain integration and Information Management’.

“One of the main areas we are looking at is the ability to maximise value from plantation grown hardwoods,” Dr. Baker said.

“Our projects in this area explore a range of issues, including use of genetics and silviculture to maximise key wood properties, how to assess trees during harvesting to determine their ideal product use and developing wood products which utilise plantation hardwood timber.”

Dr Baker said some of the projects utilise remote sensing technologies.

“Some examples of using this technology include scanning restoration plantings to determine their structural attributes and using drones to fly under canopies to monitor tree growth.

“These projects are particularly interesting because they demonstrate how new technologies can be used to provide data to answer scientific questions.

“They also show how we can adapt technologies for operational tasks such as growth monitoring.”

Dr Baker said the outcomes of these projects will improve our industry’s ability to make informed choices about managing the forest for both production and conservation.

In its time, the Centre has made a number of significant discoveries, including a recent find showing Tasmanian grown plantation eucalypts had appropriate machinability characteristics for use in furniture and architectural profile applications.

“We have made another discovery that plantation eucalypts have strong potential to be used in mass laminated timber products,” Dr Baker said.

“The results from this particular discovery highlight that timber from eucalypt plantations has the potential to be used in a wide range of products.”

Next year is the final year of the Centre’s planned five-year life, with many students expected to complete their research projects.

Dr Baker said project results are expected to be widely disseminated across the forest sector.

“Hopefully our research will lead to the continued improvement and optimisation of forest management and forest products.”

The coming Network newsletters will include features on some of the Centre projects as they near completion.

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