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Water, Trees and Forest Management

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by forester_neil, Nov 22, 2007.

  1. Well, there seems to have been a flurry of posting about water, global warming and environmental impacts recently.

    Some posts posts show how much information, misinformation and thorough bulls&*t is out there, being spouted by just about everyone, government, politicians, greens, interest groups, mums dads and even my brother and sister-in-law.

    These two quotes seem to ask very similar questions, but, believe it or not, they are worlds apart.

    Rob's question is difficult to answer well - forest management (or specifically timber harvesting if you like) affects water yield. The questions that this statement raises usually avoided by both greens and bureaucrats alike, is how is it affected, how much is water yield affected and how does this change over time and how does different silviculture techniques affect wtaer outcomes, both now and in the future.

    FL's questions are far more based in green dogma and begins to scratch the surface of some of the exceptionally poor information that gets out there, how it is interpreted and how it gets used.

    Timber harvesting is not land clearing. Land clearing infers that the existing ecosystem is managed post harvesting to become pasture or different land use and ecosystem type. Just not true. Clearfell and or seed tree harvesting occurs in areas where dominant tree species tend to be shade intolerant and have developed regeneration/regrowth/restocking techniques to cope with either low intensity disturbance or very high intensity/bradscale disturbance. They tend to be fire sensitive. Understorey species tend to be colonisers rather than regenerators (generally speaking). Smaller group selection in these forests lead to a change in forest type - that is the dominant species will tend to change to shade tolerant trees that outcompete the other trees since they don't need as much sun. In general, in Victoria, fire is used to provide a good seed bed to regenerate the same forest type (coupe burning produces and ash bed effect, removes shade producing plants and changes soil properties to be more receptive to ash regrowth)

    Group selection harvesting, shelterwood, or single tree selection in ash forest types results in poor or no regeneration, but can be used in other forest types (red gum, box-ironbark, some low elevation mixed species forests et al)

    However, if you want to maintain water yield, other forest management techniques amy provide better results for water yield. But that involves a conscious decision to manage forests for that particular outcome.

    Things to provide discussion -

    • Harvest old growth - it's old and dying anyway! But let's make sure there are forests there to provide succession to that age class (currently in Victoria, that is a problem). How old is old growth anyway?

      Sustainable harvest means that you regenerate the areas you harvest. Does this really happen, and where?

      Firewood - the hidden cost?

      VEAC and the Redgum report - 4 billion litres for flooding!

      Clearfell, Seed tree, group selection, shelterwood, single tree selection - what's it all mean?

      Why do greenies always argue with you when you're at the pub having a few quiet drinks?

      Resource information - what's out there?

      Rainforest - what is it, where is it, how do you find the edge?

      Wood chips and pulp - the most efficient use of a tree.

      Wood or water? Why not both?
    There'll be dozens more! Personally, I like the one about sustainable harvesting and regeneration. It's a hidden issue that gets absolutely ignored by the greens (which I find disgusting) and by the government (which is also just as terrible)

    Screw bottled water! Our forest make the best water and all you have to do is turn the tap!



    PS I'm off to a wedding in QLD, so I may not be able to get back to any particular thing till Monday!

    PPS Sorry for the length - but I've had no complaints yet!
  2. Some interesting info there.
    I note that what you have covered deals with biodiversity from a trees perspective.
    Part of the point about Old Growth forests is the fact that they have fallen dead wood, as well as the living stuff, part of the point is that there is a developed habitat for animals, mosses other things than just focusing on the trees.

    You points about ending up with a monoculture of highly shade tolerant trees if you just fell individual trees I think is a very interesting point. But clear felling stretches several hundred meters wide I would see as a poor strategy (From a bio Diversity perspective) Obviously your point about removing tiny patches is very valid (And I hadn’t previously considered, but removing hundred meter or less patches would make an area open enough to allow shade sensitive plants to grow, while still making sure there was sufficient biodiverse forest around the areas to seed it.

    Your statement that “Timber harvesting is not land clearing†is true from the simple perspective of intent, but having spent some time in and around harvested areas, I’ll have to say from the evidence left the difference is semantics

    I am not a rabid no logging advocate, i just am a believer in the need for biodiversity, so harvesting of any given “crop†is fine, as long as you don’t endanger any given species in an area, and from the evidence I have seen a lot of our current logging practices do this.
  3. I know from Myrtleford to Bright (and surrounding areas), have a managed tree program, where the trees are all grown around the surrounding hills and they clear a section, and then re-plant.
    There would probably be some animal issues, but they'd move to another area that wasn't being touched for the time being...

    I'm not familiar with old forrests, and could imagine that an abundance of wildlife would be housed therein, and maybe should leave those alone, but once again, i'm not too familiar with them.
  4. Well, yes and no....

    Recent research has shown that amount coarse woody debris stays relatively the same over different age classes. This came as a bit of a suprise as one of the main correlating factor is not old trees falling over, but that larger fallen logs take longer to rot and are less likely to be completely burnt in fires (although larger logs need to be there in the first place!) When a coupe is planned , it is a requirement to retain a number of habitat trees (on a per hectare basis) to provide some retained habitat, and after harvesting, logging slash ( bark, heads, larger limbs but generally anything that can't be cut up into planks or uneconomic to transport for chipping) is distributed across the whole coupe prior to site preparation (often burning).

    When fires (that aren't high intensity that leaves little but blackened toothpicks behind) go through ash forests, larger fallen logs remain predominantly unburnt (charred on the outside and possibly hollowed out further) and new fallen logs and stags are added as the overstorey trees die. Re-establishment of broader biodiversity arises from refugia and the patchiness of fires in the bush. Generally wet gullies (quite often rainforest areas or areas that are cool and damp enough to support several rainforest species, and areas that are now called old growth (They aren't old for nothing!) This stuff all depends on disturbance history, fire intensity and fire/weather conditions at the time.

    This patchiness of natural disturbance is what clearfelling and seed tree systems try to emulate, to varying degrees of success.

    It is important to realise that most species don't exist exclusively in old growth (there are some though). Species like Leadbeater's Possum need nesting hollows commonly found in areas where old and senescent trees are present, but feed on wattles, which are generally short lived and are prolific in newly regenerated areas.

    One major issue about old growth that ALWAYS gets ignored on ALL sides, is that there is mimimal forest set aside to be "future" old growth. This is where the patchwork that is formed by buffer and filter zones, National Parks and reserved Water Catchments (in conjunction with natural disturbances) will be of utmost importance into the future.

    Understorey, shade tolerant trees are rarely a monoculture. Generally, the dominant species in Victoria's ash forests are the monoculture, initially outcompeting other species for light, with a number of sub-dominant, shade tolerant species.

    Single tree selection in much of the ash forests in Victoria was a favoured method of harvesting before the second world war (when there were "run of the forest" licences), which was one of the contributing factors to the intensity, severity and extent of the 1939 fires. Many of these areas have become reserved from harvesting as the remaining trees (think old growth) provide habitat similar to old growth forests, are low quality (from a purely timber perspective) and are uneconomic (and dangerous) to harvest. As other species grew up around the stumps (peppermints, wattles, Bedfordia, Hazels, and lots of others, the nature of these areas were changed. What grew up in instead of ash species generally depended more on site quality and rainfall than proximity to existing vegetation.

    (I have stood by stumps with board grooves and heard rampant greenies state emphatically that these areas are prstine, untouched old growth forests - a good demonstration of some of the crap that passes for information nowadays.)

    Coupe size is very important when it comes to succesful regeneration. There has been quite alot of work into "edge effects" around smaller coupes (much work was done in the mountain ash forests of Mount Cole). These effects generally summount to the length (time) of sunlight available to the coupe that results from the shading of retained trees around the edges. If a coupe is too small or linear, they are too shaded (and cold in some instances) and they generally don't regenerate (also why we can have wide, long roadlines and firebreaks without having to continually harvest new and growing trees)

    Believe it or not, it is never the intent to harvest timber with regeneration. Not only is it environmentally unsustainable, its uneconomic and just plain stupid. There are, however, large areas where regeneration has failed (approximately 10,000ha between 18996-2001 (all forest types), and 2,411ha in even aged forests between 1991 and 1996. There are specific issues with these numbers, but they are terrible. No ifs, buts or otherwise. But since addressing this particular issues isn't high on the political agenda for both greens and politicians, redressing this issue is a low priority (it'll also take millions of dollars.) This one point I find amazingly depressing. Talk to a greenie about failed regeneration and the answer is normally "well, you shouldn't have cut it down in the first place" - may be - that depends on so much, but these sites still exist, still need regenerating/reforesting and rather than pull some poxy, poorly thought out and pathetic quasi-political sound byte, how about helping address the issue. For an aspect of forestry that is so important, it is horrible to think so few people and little to no money is available to ensure that these areas are fixed up. By the way - since these areas were harvested before the formation of VicForests, it is a Government responsibility, not VicForests. It is one aspect that has improved out of sight since teh formation of the State owned enterprise.

    I feel sad and depressed now...

    I dislike the use of the term "crop" here. Native forestry isn't really about cropping or agriculture, unlike plantations. Again, in general, native forest harvesting is pretty good. When it comes to broader biodiversity, we simply don't have all that much data or information (although it may seem that way). Cute and furries have always taken precedence over (quite often) more important species that may be ugly, slimey, squiggley, small or just not very glamorous. PArt of my job is to balance economic, social and environmental aspects and provide the best answer for all, although often one or two of these aspects can take a beating either through human misunderstanding or natural causes.

    I think you might be thinking of all teh pine plantations through that area. There are quite a number of specific issues surrounding plantation forestry, many which concern herbicide, fertiliser and water use. I could go into some of these issues if you'd like, but it's not my speciality and just dealing with native forests is complicated enough!

    It is important to remember that native forestry in Australia, and in particular Victoria, is very young. It has developed through a recognition of earlier, unsustainable practices often dating back to when Melbourne was first colonised by Europeans. Very few areas are on their second harvest, and fires, floods and windstorms often get in the way of long term research. European forestry has been going on for centuries with (again, in general) highly modified land and forest systems.


  5. Current clear felling techniques are poor and are conducted for the market sector income. It produces even age forests and this in turn does present problems of bio diversity at all levels. Current practices are much better than what they were and will continue to get better as more research is conducted, but to hear people say they do not effect the bio diversity of an area that has not been touched by chainsaws is crap.

    When a fire goes through a zone very rarely will it wipe out all trees and the under storey, but clear felling does achieve this. The under story can have many layers and current regen practices still does not fully address this.

    If the fire is intense then whammo its all history and an even growth forest will succeed in the succession of life. The fires a couple of years ago around Maffra, Licola, Jameson River was a very intense hot fire and the tall timber in many areas were totally wiped out.

    Buffer zones are put in place to keep the public unaware of clear felling practices. Clear felling does not take place on roadsides, roadside hills and ridges. Its done behind the ridge you can see, as an aesthetic point of view so general public driving along the country can look at the beautiful scenery :p, because if the public saw how much clear felling rips the guts out, there would be a ground swell for this method to cease and since the loggers and government people are a savvy bunch they run with the view, what you don't see won't hurt you and we will tell you what a good job we do in regen :p

    Cheers :cool:
  6. Hmmm.....before I respond to some of the issues and misinformation raised by Dazza, let me just reitterate that different forest type have different floristics, structures, different biodiversity and habitat requirements and require different silvicultural practices. Clearfelling and seed tree harvesting is primarily used in even aged forest types, while other methods of harvesting and regeneration is used in say...box ironbark or mixed species forests for example. I think this reply may be quite long, just to identify and clear up some of the crap, "greenwash" and misinformation Dazza has put forward (as well as some of the correct bits! :p).

    Wrong. Current clearfelling techniques are excellent. Excavators with felling heads, skidders and loaders do a brilliant job! Clearfelling (and seedtree) harvesting is not done for market sector income, although wood utilisation plans and the like are co-ordinated to minimise costs, mainly to government, which generally means minimising the length of roading, and maximising how many years a road can be used for in an area. Many forestry roads follow the paths of earlier roads, early firebreaks and old tramways, which are upgraded to cope with heavier trucks. Clearfelling (and seedtree) is used primarily because it provides the best possible environment post harvesting to regenerate a coupe. However, these silvicultural systems also have health and safety benefits - it is much, much safer hand-felling (not so common any more) into a clear area than one that is treed.

    Ash forests are, in general, even aged. Primarily due to fire sensitivity (mountain ash, alpine ash, snow gums, etc etc will die if exposed to even low intensity fires). After fires, tree degrade occurs quickly and often (but not always) the trees will distribute seed then loose all leaves within weeks (or months for very low intensity fires) and will fall within approximately 5 or so years. By that stage, a new, single aged forest will be growing below and understorey species will be starting to re-establish themselves.

    Where there are greater issues with biodiversity is when an even aged forest become uneven aged (as happened with single tree selection harvesting before WW2) or uneven aged/mixed species forests become even aged (after extreme fire events, felling after the 1939 fires and occassionally up until the 60s/70s. The last (pre alpine fires) reduction in sustainable yields back in 2002 was created because of the poor understanding and minimal regulation of harvesting during these periods (although better computers, GIS, forest modelling, and the Statewide Forest Resource Inventory also helped provide a more accurate idea of what we had,and where it was)

    Dazza - what is it, current felling is poor or better? :p. Current felling practices have arisen through several pathways and pressures. Firstly, after the Black Friday fires in 1939 in conjunction with post war diesel heavy haulage technologies, sawmilling became centralised and moved away from bush mills and run of the bush licences. Then, back in 1986, the Victorian Timber Industry Strategy of 1986 provided for 15 year licences. Before this, licences were issued to sawmillers on a year by year basis. Because of this, Sawmills could then invest (through bank loans) in better infrastryucture which provided better efficiencies, and generally created the industry we have today. Advances in technology both in sawing and felling has made the industry more efficient and a hell of a lot safer.

    In the short term, clearfelling does remove biodiversity from the coupe. Research has shown that many (but far from all) animals etc move away from felling and into surrounding forested areas. Further long term research has shown no significant difference between the number and abundancy of many indicator species before havesting and after regeneration and growth to maturity. David Lindenmayer has done lots of work towards this, and harvesting practices have been modified to accomodate his findings. However, the number of studies is low, most early coupes were managed differently to the way they are now, and that statistical difference is based on a relatively small sample. Furthermore, long term research is expensive and transcends several governments, so the importance of these types of studies goes unrecognised by the primary public land manager.

    Um...yes and no. Fires don't tend to be as small as 25 to 30 hectares, and the patchiness of fire severity depends on many things. Most understorey species provide the primary fuel source in fires and are removed or killed, unless its a very, very low intensity fire, which is rare. Regeneration of understorey species depends on the method of regeneration and type of dispersion. Acacias and several other species have a large seed store in the soil, and also require scarification to germinate. Other species (bracken) are rhizomous and re-establish themselves through root stock. Ferns can regenerate both through wind and water distribution of spores. Seeding in several eucalypts species is triggered or enhanced by fire and disturbance. Animals are a different story. They tend to have a harder time post fires than post harvesting, and this comes down the the scale and speed of disturbance. But, here again, this depends on the species (long/short lived, mobile/immobile etc)and fire intensity.

    You can check out fire extent and severity mapping on forest explorer online - most people are suprised to see the variation and size of fire severity (hope the link works!)
    http://nremap-sc.nre.vic.gov.au/Map... growing a crop of pines... Cheers Neil
  7. Here is a question...
    What if it were?
    What would happen (Both to the Industry and the environment) if loggers had to buy there land and plantation farm it.
    would they be able to get better yield per acer (Thus meaning you could leave more untoched acres) Would we end up with greater fire issues or could teh be managed indipendently?
    Would the land cost Vs Yields make it totaly unviable?
    What other thoughts could you put to this idea?
  8. Finally a bonafide expert on a topic!

    Vote this the most informative thread in NR.

    :-k much to ponder... coming from Gippsland where I've seen coupes of plantation and natural forest cut... this is good readin.
  9. They can be. Blue gum plantations are all over the place!

    Generally the land isn't purchased, it's more of a long term lease arrangement, with teh products being owned by the plantation company (or dare I say Managed investment Scheme), again, depending. Many large companies that use timber as a primary resource (mainly for pulp) have gone down the plantation path to ensure a secure supply, manage quality more effectively and also provide a tax and investment benefit.

    Sawmills are a bit different. Plantations for pulpwood are generally short rotation and fast growing, on a rotation basis of approximately 15 to 20 years (give or take) - there's lots more behind this, wood densities, levels of cellulose, colour, etc etc. Plantations for quality sawlogs take much longer to grow, require regular maintenance (pruning etc). Radiata pine takes about 45 years to get to sawlog size, eucalypts take longer again. Rotation ages can be reduced by selective breeding, clonal selection (I think that's the latest term!) good site selection, fertilising etc, to produce a rotation age of about 60 years. There are very few hardwood plantations for sawlogs around, mainly because of this time span.

    However, issues like water use, fertiliser, herbicide and insecticide use, the risks of infection by using a monoculture are more prevalent in plantation forestry, with some issues (like water use andcarbon sequestration) adding and subtracting from the final bottom line.

    Yes. Native forests vary between 70 cu.m./ha D+ sawlog through to 500cu.m./ha D+ sawlog (give or take - those extremes are pretty rare). Sawlog/pulp log ratios vary from about 15:1 (pulp:sawlog) to 0.25:1 (pulp:sawlog). Generally speaking, the lower sawlog yielding coupes priovide a higher volume of pulp logs, but not always. Before anyone mentions 9c/tonne etc, you make more from sawlog. Lots and lots more. Sawlogs will sell for around $65/cu.m up to about $180/cu.m. depending on grade, species and distance from the sawmill. Pulp goes for around $30 to $50/tonne (which is approximately 1.5 cu.m.), again depending on species and distance. Some Forest Management Areas rely on a strong pulp market to make sawlog harvesting economic, but that isn't saying that the market is driven by pulp. Further, fire salvage has really skewed more recent numbers, as trees degrade (timber wise) very quickly after fire.

    Plantations will yield around the 300 cu.m. per hectare mark, depending. That's about the same as a good coupe in an area with good site quality. The real advantage with plantations is that you have a level of control over the quality of the trees, location and purpose. Another real winning point with plantations is that they can provide consistency of product, whereas natiove forests can't (well, to a point). So, if you have a sawmill set up to only take red mahogany logs that are between 45cm to 50cm small end diameter, you can consistently get logs over an extended period of time that suit those exact specifications. That means you can be super efficient cutting planks and provide known and understood by-products (generally chips and sawdust) of a certain quantity.

    Lastly, remember that if you had 7000ha available for plantation for your 20,000cu.m per year mill, you'd still plant the lot. Any excess can be sold on, or kept. They'll still keep putting on weight and being worth more money onsold or milled in-house. Remember that you wouldn't plant everything in year 1, and that there's a 50+ year time lag before your sawlog plantation produces timber. (this time lag, and suitable species and plantation treatment, are the issues ignored in green arguments about replacing native forest timber for plantation timber.

    Quite possibly. But I bet its not for the reasons your thinking! Plantations increase fire risk to regional communities, since most plantations are located near where they are used. They also provide even aged, consistent fuel loads over large areas, where native forests are far from homogenous with respect to fuel loads. Hancocks VPC plantations (like those around Bright) are a bit different because of their history. That being said, good plantation design can minimise fire risk, and good preparation can also minimise risk. There's an insurance issue herre too.

    Harvesting crews provide experienced support for bushfires (qualified excavator and bulldozer drivers are in short supply during a big fire). Forest roading made for timber harvesting usually provide the best trafficable transport routes, and harvested unregenerated or early regenerated coupes provide important refuge for both fire crews (dog forbid) as well as native species.

    In the 2002/03 fires, about $21M worth of pine plantation ended up in smoke. It hardly made the news.

    Land cost is primarily driven by tree/sea changers. However, new plantations have increased land value in several areas, and this is one of the concerns for Managed Investment Schemes. They can have more money than sence, pay inapropriate amounts for land, and are generally big enough to absorb losses when poor choices are made. Some reallly interesting land value/social information is provided in the Regional Matters - An Atlas of Regional Victoria 2005 and the Victorian Catchment Management Council's Catchment Condition Report 2007. In general, plantations provide better value for money than sheep or crops because they can be discounted over a long period of time, there are tax breaks, carbon is becoming seen as another product and timber values will increase, both because of tree growth but also because of ever increasing demand. Cellulosics are also becoming seen as a new market for pulp as well.

    Many early plantations were established without contracts for their product. That is risky...very risky. But having a contract is a double edged sword. The contracts tend to set a value for the timber off a plantation, so when an expansion in the pulp market occurs (for example, once Gunn's Pulp Mill gets going, or Maryvale expands etc) these owners tend to lose out, while earlier risk takers can achieve higher prices. Unlike wine, timber markets are naturally diverse, and tend to be buffered to international vagaries of an import/export market and exchange rates. Worse case scenario - leave the trees in the ground for another five years, then sell them for more! (Native forests provided employment for young men during the depression and after the wars, and fueled a consrtruction boom minimised some of teh worst effects of these high population/low employment times.)

    Water. There are moves to make plantations (unirregated) to pay for water use. There is an equity issue here - why should plantations be treated differently to other unirregated crops?

    Social. In Tasmainia where marginal dairies were put under trees, a strong backlash was felt as regional communities felt they were being pushed out of their towns.

    Speaking of Tasmainia, monopolies and pork barrelling can also be issues. But while there are companies like Hancocks, Wierhouser, Carter Holt Harvey, etc etc, this is less likely to be a problem in Victoria. (where's the emotican for ducking for cover!)

    Native forest logging tends to harvest too young, as licence commitments were too great back in the 1980s/90s. This means that we aren't getting best value for money from a timber perspective. Harvesting post 1939 fire regrowth forests at 65 to 80 or so years of age means they are still growing at their fastest rate. Leaving them for another 40-60 years would mean that their mean annual increment would be ramping off, growth rate decreasing and that's the time to maximise timber and dollars!

    Forestry is a dying profession. It's not trendy, tainted by tripe laden greenwash, and unfortunately, VCE students are opting for environmental science instead. This may not seem to be a major issue, except that forestry students (either as Bachelor of forestry, forest science or diploma of forestry) concentrate on Australian forests, habitats and environments, where environmental science students tend to have a broader focus. They also tend to be "greener", even though I don't know a single forester that isn't (it was one of the criticisms forest industries had of forestry students and new graduates)! I would prefer to see forest management conducted by someone who has studied Australian and Victorian forests for 4 or more years. (agian, not a universal truth - some foresters aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, but most are bloody good at what they do!) I can also go on here how everyone seems to become an expert in native forests when it comes to protesting - teachers, doctors, vets, lawyers...you name it, but at least the lawyers support protesters and provide alternate legal interpretations to forest legislation!) I'll have to tell you all about the dumb irish bint who shouted at me for an hour in a pub once. Expert my fat, hairy ar@#...

    But, then I think of 10,000ha unsuccessfully regenerated harvested forest....that's about 20,000 soccer fields give or take....

    I think I strayed off question again....

  10. Unlike the self vested propaganda from you :p Seriosly, have a look at some of the responses you have given. You have not said its right or wrong you have drolled out a thousand words saying sometimes what I have said, go figure :roll:
    what a load of crap, if there was no money in it, it would not be conducted, say what you want to say but the market sector is worth billions.
    what is it neil, one minute your saying its NQR and next you are :p
    In other words you don't know :p
    hmm thought I said that :p They keep you employed so no wonder you have a distorted view :LOL: :p :wink:

    Like I said before, i still think current practices suck, yes there getting better and will continue to do so with more research. But as you point out research is limited and 50 - 100 years we will see how we are tracking.
    Why should people say what a great job your doing, there is limited research to say one way or another, only time will determine if current practices are good. Currently its people like you telling others, we are doing a good job so STFU you people coz your all ignorent, what would you know :p The has to some form of loss in a macro sense, you cannot replant everything, you cannot replicate fuana in all facets its just not possable, clear felling does leave a macro imprint and that is and does effect bio diversity
    thats because you keep chopping em down and don't let them get old :LOL: :wink: :p

    Bio diversity can be played out in many ways. Lets say your going to clear XYZ plot. You ask the seed pickers to go in and pick seed from this area. He selects the better looking species to take seed from. This seed is then used for regen. So you are replanting a better geno type form for example. Not the mixed good, bad and indifferent. Sounds just like Monsanto :LOL: will you be patenting the DNA of this species as well :p Yep seems like you guys are putting back what your taking out to me :wink:

    So is it the straight caliper, minimal lower branch, wide DBH species you want to increase wood yield, with no chance of this tree yielding hollows for animals because by that stage of its life its ready to be ripped from the ground again?

    Cheers :cool:
  11. I put this together a couple years back - what has changed? BB
  12. I'll respond initially to Dazza...

    Right or wrong doesn't really count in this sort of argument because native forests are not homogenous, plantation-like forests. Before anyone can provide diffinitive responses in any of these discussions, a level of specificity must be attained, and even then, you can't say right or wrong (soil biota is poorly understood and recorded for example). So, sadly rather than providing a comfortable, easy-to-live-with yes/no, all these things end up being "more or less" right or wrong, and anywhere in between.

    Of course economics is involved. In Victoria, VicForests earned just over $99M from forest products alone (up $60M from last year primarily due to fire salvage logging). To do this cost over $100M. On a smaller scale, whether an individual coupe makes money can come down to basic things like the cost of diesel. However, economics is not the only factor, and this is what must be recognised. Improvements in technology, coupe design and roading has transformed the industry from one of the most lethal to one far, far safer, and with practices that have become more environmentally sensitive.

    Re data on biota and biodiversity - Most research that has been conducted over the years has not been, shall we say, comprehensive. Research dollars have followed where money from forest resource was involved (so we have got pretty good information on flora and water) and where political pressure could be brought to bear easily (which is why we know quite a bit about possums, gliders, birds, etc). In most cases, these studies and data collection were not ongoing (well, not over a long enough period) so we don't necessarily have a good grasp on condition and trend. Long answer short - no, we don't know. But neither does the greenies and some of the crap they produce is as bad and emotive as some of the crap the browns produce.

    Government is still the pimary manager of public land, soo it's not too suprising to find that government is still a major employer and natural resource managers. Either that, or no-one else would give me a job! :p

    You are welcome to your opinion, but keep it informed by critically looking at and understanding the arguments presented on all sides (which I'm glad to see your doing to my statements, long as they are! :grin: ). Discussions about forestry and forests in general often become so emotionally charged that facts become unimportant - mainly because there seems to be only two sides arguing (a fault of both greens and browns), both with an extremely high level of buy-in, from a time, money and emotional point of view. I'm happy to see this isn't happening here! :p On an aside, one real positive I found after working in the Central Highlands for a while is that it was great to see the implementation of long term research and research outcomes through the coordination of all involved.

    Sorry, I was being sarcastic. The public voice is paramount to ensure government and industry compliance. Green groups are great if only because they bear scrutiny on forest practices. This can be difficult - forestry is generally poorly resourced - in the Central Highlands for example, forest officers may be trying to supervise 10 coupes each, with 6 or 7 harvesting contractors (there have been far too many examples where activists have identified Code breaches before forest officers have). But it would be nice to get a pat on the back every now and then!

    You know, I think I've only ever told one green activist to STFU - that dim Irish bint...anyway....The public should have a greater say in forest issues, but I dislike (and find it disheartening) the way that the discussions that appear in the public arena is usually one issue topics - old growth for example. No comment about retaining younger areas to provide that old growth and its related habitat into the future. From a green perspective, this is understandable, it focuses thoughts, emotions and discussions away from inherent complexity and towards an understandable simplicity, and allows for easy approval. (This leads down the path of "purchasing" social licence to operate as public land managers, which has traditionally failed abismally - dare I mention Wombat Community Forest Management).

    When it comes to macro/micro scaled things, I think you may have missed the point here, but what you've raised is extremely important (and I think I missed mentioning it). The point I made about regeneration and sustainable harvesting harks back to my comment about spin from both greens and browns. This one is brown spin. Another classic example of brown spin was the attempt to re badge/brand native forests as "re-gen", and clearfell as "sun meadow harvesting" (among other names) by the Timber Promotions Council. What an absolute load of F&*K#NG S#&T. Thankfully, it was wisely and duly ignored for the garbage it was.

    Exactly. And that's bad. What's going to provide old growth habitat in 50-100 years time? This is where that patchwork of age classes that is created the reserve system and fires can become important. In 50-100 years time, areas that were burnt during the 1939 fires that are now reserved will provide these areas (the Black Spur, for example), but this has been done more by accident than good planning.

    Now, onto scale. On a macro scale (say the Central Highlands) the forests form a patchwork (mosaic has been used in literature as well) of homogenous different age classed multiple forest types that changes over time. On a smaller, say forest block scale, psyllid attack has allowed rainforest species to move into areas that were formerly ash forest (see this in some places along the Marysville/Cambarville Road and Big River Road). It is likely that if a fire gets through these area (as it did in 1939), some will revert t ash forests, however, some won't. This sort of ebb and flow occurs across all scales (spacial and temporal), all forest types, and affects all biota. At a coupe scale, these changes tend to occur more quickly and are more homogenous over the area, in a same way (and size) that say, a fire might. On a smaller scale again, whether a seed becomes a tree can depend on whether the seedling is protected from frosts, access to sun, soil compaction, ash bed viability, etc and this can be down to whether the seed lands in a bit of a hollow or near a stump. (I don't think I've really covered this bit well enough....) People tend to only see forests at one particular growth stage at a time, without relating seedling to old growth. The time scale can be incomprehensible and confronting.

    Seed collection doesn't (and can't) get that specific, since it relies on what seed is available and species. There are specific guidelines about harvesting seed as well as where seed from one particular area can be sown (although this relies on adequate seed stores, and can become an issue after fires). Seed collection contractors can't be that picky - they get shown to areas that have/have had flowering trees and told to go get. Seed colection will happen well before harvesting occurs (although seed from the coupe is preferred) and seed can remain viable (this is tested at regular intervals) for up to six years. Read the silvicultural guidelines - the provide a good picture of how it all works (and some of them date back more than 15 years now!)

    What you seem to be talking about here is phenotype selection, and it doesn't happen through seed selection, if at all. In clearfell harvesting coupes this phenotypic selection doesn't occur since only habitat trees are left. In seed tree harvesting, seed trees are selected for seed production and viability (and again tested post harvest), location and generally retained habitat (seed tree harvesting requires more trees to be retained, and older trees produce more seed, so generally good habitat trees are retained rather than good form, although this is still also a consideration from a management perspective). There is no specific genotypic selection in native forests - if anything, it is specifically avoided when selecting seed (provenance is generally defined on location, site quality and phenotype et al).

    Tree specification is an important issue, but mainly for sawmills. That's why there's a grading systems and why D and E grade logs get sold for substantially less than A and B grade. DBH is also an issue, but primarily because of growth rates. The large ash along the Acheron Way is the same age as the sticks around Noojee, which is the same age as medium sized ash in Matlock and the grand forests across the Black Spur. These areas (all 1939 fire origin) show different growth rates and therefore should have sustainable yields attibuted to each (where harvesting is allowed, that is). This is where forest modelling and timber scheduling and planning is important, and partially why there was a reduction in sustainable yield in the Central Highlands (but not the only reason). Generally, the faster a tree grows, the less dense the timber and more subject to pipe defect (termite attack through the centre of a tree)

    Another aside - in general, the more specific a mill is about the trees they need to saw, the more likely they are to fail as a business. Most of the time, a sawlog licence was the most, if not only, valuable asset a sawmill has.

    Tree hollows are not (generally) a genotypic trait - environmental factors are a greater contributing source of tree hollows. There has been recent research done also on the shape and size of tree hollows, which is also an important factor for habitat - all tree hollows are not the same! But you're right, because of some of the outcomes from the Timber Licence Renewal project and Our Forests Our Future, trees are getting cut too soon (and mills have had to make changes to allow for sawing small SEDUB timber, occassionally putting themselves at risk of being uneconomic.)


  13. You're right about concerns over the last 30 years. It roughly coincides with the development of forest activism, and a good history of this type of stuff has been produced by Dr. John Dargarvel.

    What needs to be recognised, is that apart from more recent concerns over clearfelling and its effects on biodiversity, is that forests across Australia have been seriously degraded over an extended period, going back to when it was percieved as an endless timber resource by the the first European settlers. In Victoria, the 1850s gold rush stripped forests - Wombat, Bendigo, Walhalla, etc. Then, as "run of the forest licences" were issued, little was understood about regeneration and even less effort was put into replacing what was taken (generally based on the perception that the trees would grow back themelves) and then the fires of 1926, 1939, 1983 etc etc etc. This environmental history has left us with what we have today. Complete Pre-European biodiversity is not well known or understood, and often coloured by the perception of early settlers and politicians.

    It is uncommon to harvest 50 year old trees. FMAs will harvest post 1939 regrowth once it reaches a suitable size (this is where some confusion can occur - it's referred to as 1939 regrowth, but that's when the fire was. Some of the areas didn't get regenerated until the late 1940s.) Furthermore, harvesting practices have changed since the 70s (thank dog for that!) This has created an odd problem - more recently harvested coupes retain habitat trees, but regrowth from the large 70s coupe don't tend to.

    Fire damage is an important factor to providing a mosaic or patchwork of diferent environments. Putting aside teh logging aspects for a bit, to achieve the greatest biodiversity, a large diversity of habitats is required. Fire and other natural disturbances provide this diversity of habitats, from seedlings through to senescent trees. Its all part of a natural process. Now the argument is "does timber harvesting affect this level and rate of disturbance?" Timber harvesting tries to emulate a natural disturbance process, some say it does it successfully, some say it doesn't.

    Fragmentation (and connectivity) is an important issue. The absolute worse type of fragmentation occurs when the natural environment is replaced contuiguously with a modified environment and isolates patches of varying size and quality from eachother. In general, clearfelling doesn't match this, if only due to the size of coupes. But that isn't to say there isn't an effect, and this is regulated by coupe design and size. It's why buffers, filter strips understorey islands and habitat patches are being retained in some coupes. Providing corridors across and/or around coupes is often, but not always, succesfully done.

    1080 and herbicides - more of a plantation issue. 1080 is used (strictly supervised etc etc) in some forest areas to control foxes and rabbits only (for example in the Eastern Grampians during recolonisation of rock-hopping wallabies). In Tasmania, it is used to regulate and minimise browsing (young seedlings are tasty!). In Victoria, it was phased out in 1988 for wallaby grazing control. Hebicides are used in Victoria to control weeds like blackberries, but mainly in areas where biological controls haven't been too successful, and along roadsides which are prime sources and vectors where access is easy. In ash forest coupes, pest control is often unnecessary as native species will outcompete most pest species. Pest control is also sometimes used in reforestation of when remedial work is required to regenerate a failed coupe. Off site effects of herbicides is always a concern here.

    An interesting bit of work was done recently (but never saw light of day) that suggested creating forest prescriptions based on risk and proximity to that risk (ie clearfelling could be viewed as a relatively high "risk" therefore large buffer areas were created around teh coupe and harvesting excluded for a number of years. Interesting.

    A bit of an odd combination of lots of stuff here...

    The easiest one - it's no longer a Draft Code of Forest Practices! 2007 is now out there...

    The TIS and VCS could be read in conjunction and had the aim of providing a long term viable industry and growth while maintaining conservation principles and practices. I suppose these two documents provided the basis of many Forest Management Plans. The NFPS set up the RFAs and all the other acronyms therein. It was supposed to settle the disagreements between greens and browns and instrumented regular reporting against the RFA commitments. Just a note, the RFAs are starting to require review after their initial 10 years in Victoria. Plenty of issues here, not the least providing 20 year certainty of access to forest resources for the timber industry and mapping Forest Management Zones. Also important to have on hand is the Forests Act (1958) and Land Act (1958), which essentially set up the frameworks by which native forests are regulated (plus some more Acts and regulations, I guarantee!)

    Since then, there has been the Forests (timber Harvesting) Act (1990), The Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act (2004), Catchment ad Land Protection Act (1994)...yikes! My head is spinning! So many Acts, so little time! :p Oh, and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999)...

    Because there is so much legislation, regulations and Codes, it's no suprise that there are inconsistencies and breaches. For example, recently the Scientific Advisory Committee gave a final recommendation that dingoes should be listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988) (oops! forgot that one!). In the Catchment and Land Protection Act (1994) dingoes are listed with dogs run wild and wild dogs as declared pest animals. Thats why a paragraph in many of the Acts exist to say that one Act does not affect etc etc another particular Act.

    Not all forests are clear felled. There are several silvicultural systems used in Victoria alone (Single tree selection, group selection, shelterwood1 & 2, seed tree and clearfell initially come to mind). Different silvicultural methods are generally used for different forest types. Clearfell and seed tree are predominant in even aged ash forests in Victoria.

    Be careful when referring to bed of ashes and ash bed (it sounds semantic, but it really isn't). For successful ash species seed germination, you want an ash bed resulting from a hot, contiguous logging slash burn, to create an uncompacted ash bed or alternatively, use mechanical disturbance to have uncompacted bare soil. In these cases, it is more detrimental to successful regeneration to have large areas left partially burnt (leaving too much ground cover) than having the burn sooooo hot it renders the soil completely infertile (it happens, but mainly where a fire has entered a stump and has taken hold in the root system resulting in a long term, high temperature, minimal oxygen underground fire. Yes, coupes burns sometimes damage retained trees, but they are usually cleared around (a D7 works a treat) to remove flamable material from below the tree to a wide radius, but sometimes they still get damaged from scorch.

    Mountain ash is the preferred regeneration species ONLY when the area harvested was mountain ash. Theer is no exception. If the area was alpine ash, it will be regenerated as alpine ash. Messmate will be regenerated with messmate. Mixed species with mixed species.

    Seeding is usually done by kilograms per hecatre. This is varied depending on what is recommended by the silvicural guidelines and tested % of viable seeds. It can vary from about 0.5kg/ha to 2.5kg/ha. Each kg of seed can have anywhere between about 100,000 seeds (ash species) up to 700,000 for red gum, for example. The weight of seed used for sowing is adjusted by the tested viability of a sample from that seed lot used. So you're a bit under with you're seed number there! Most direct seeding is now done by helicopter - plane flight paths were showing up in stocking surveys! If a spreader isn't available, you hand sow. Not a bad way to spend a day!

    Seedling surveys are outlined in Silvicultural Guideline Number 10. Studies have shown that a coupe successfully passing a seedling survey using these guidelines will result in a restocked and floristically complete area. Areas that fail initially undergo an intensive survey, and if they fail that they are supposed to be retreated (expensive) and resurveyed. There is a large backlog of areas that need surveys and need retreating and further regeneration. This also relies on coupe mapping and good, accurate records. But that's another story. Suffice to say that of the coupes we know that had some type of site preparation, approximately 10,000ha have not been successfully regenerated between 1996 and 2001 in Victoria. That's a very loaded statement...loaded with buts, ifs, and howevers....

    Floristic surveys were done through the Statewide Forest Resource Inventory (SFRI), sample plots and individual surveys by researchers. These are rarely totally comprehensive, but its better than what we have ever had! Ongoing survey work aims to pick up any changes, but it seems to be going down the indicator path rather than comprehensive surveys and sample plots.

    Provenance is usually preserved in canopy species and several understorey species by local seed collection. Other species will depend on regenerating/establishment methods.

    Loss of mature trees after coupe burns can happen, but generally they set seed before they die. As a stag, it can be argued that some habitat attributes are improved! If seed set is poor (shown by seed trap testing), an area will be sown from seed collected before logging commenced.

    Your last point depends entirely on scale. If we clearfelled an area the same size as last year's fires, then I'd agree. But since harvesting doesn't occur at that scale, it provides a patchwork of smaller areas consisting of even age classes spread heterogeniously across teh landscape. It isn't well understood how this compares with a natural disturbance system. It is likely that it will beneficially affect some species and not others. But then, converting even aged forests to uneven aged forests would also have a similar effect on biodiversity (ie favour some species over others). Our methods of fire management also has an impact, as does plantations, as does many other things.

    Your last statement is a bit confusing to me. Habitat creation infers that there are species which you wish to specifically manage for (which happens to an extent anyway), revegetation generally involves the rehabilitation of land, whereas regeneration involves replacing what was already there, and cultivation of trees for economic profit relates to plantations more than native forests, where we strive (but don't necessarily succeed) to manage for multiple benefits. Managing for biodiversity alone may end up conflicting with water yields, recreation, or tree-changers (for example), let alone timber values. These are all management choices that need to be made, and the consequences and outcomes accepted!

    I hope this was what you were after! There is lots more about the TIS, harvestng and sawing technology, and now the allocation of timber by area rather than volume I haven't mentioned!


  14. Have just printed this out to consume ........ my eyes were hurting reading it onscreen :p
    Will get back to you :)
  15. The greenies were on the radio again today, stating that 30 Mega litres of water would be made available if logging was stopped in Vic's catchment areas.

    This is a bloody interesting thread. Really digging your contri BB.
  16. So how many trees were cut down to make the paper you are now reading this on :p
  17. is Don.
    is good.


    (im reading while i eat :grin:)
  18. 1/2 the normal amount - always use both sides of the paper :wink:
  19. No one is saying it has not, even I have said it has improved.
    The problem is that there is little money able to be made from the required research so there is limited funding, where as there can be funding for pHD students to do research on better management of tree production. It sucks but that the way of things sadly.
    This reminds me of the poor ol chefs working in the hospitality industry. They produce good food and its the food carriers (waiters/waitresses) that get all the tips. I bet if the food was crap they would not get a tip. These poor buggers don't get thanks and tips but slave there guts out, working New Years Eve, Christmas day etc, so don't feel slighted, others do it tougher out there :LOL:
    A good way to describe it, (if we are talking the same thing) well for me, when talking to general Joe Public is to talk in "Tree Time"


    Take a Eucalyptus camaldulensis for example. It can reach 500 years of age and even older. The red line in the pic represents how long the 'average' person lives in there residents, according to the ABS figures. Mr Smith has a tree (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) that is only 72 years old (12.5% old, of its potential life span old), out the back of there place and does not like it and wants it removed. The tree might be healthy and in good condition with a very low hazard assessment. But he is going to have a big say in its long term survivability and potentially will only live there for a short time of the trees potential life. He can and does have a big impact on the tree. 72 years is a life time to him, he may only life to be 72 but the tree is still a young tacker. Tree Time vs Human Time :grin: I know its not exactly what you were getting at but meh :p
    Yes and the picker, well climber, throws on his spurs and scoots up the tree and whacks off a large heavy set limb for the pickers below. He might take another limb out of the head or moves on to the next tree and rinse and repeat. A good climber will be able to look at the heads and no which trees to climb that will yield the highest volume of seed. The seed may or may not be all viable but the volume is there. And thus he is selecting a 'type' of tree that will reward him and his pickers a good return for there time. This method of tree selection is picking a particular type of plant material. It may not be deliberate but in time after continuous harvesting of the same type of trees (ones with a high seed set) then being pollinated by the same type of high seed set trees, can and will produce a particular strain, to a degree imho.

    Cheers :cool:
  20. Very true - at least foresters get to go out into the bush and have a nice walk round very now and then. One issue I have with reward and recognition is that foresters and natural resource managers dealing with commercial interests tend to be always be reactionary and come across as defensive. A good guide is that if both the browns and the greens are shouting at about the same level, you're on the right track!

    I like your timeline. I'll use it alongside a geological one I have! As far as tree age goes, you can't beat Huon pine or the Araucarias. Not only have they been around since dinosaur times, but they hit grand old ages (2000 years and more) as well.

    Climbers are becoming rarer and rarer. Nowadays they use a rifle and scope. Also, seed collectors are directed to areas where there is known to be seed, determined by either aerial survey or on-ground observation with binoculars as you go around doing coupe recce's. Once they get there, it's up to them. Seed that is collected is catalogued by contractor, date, species and location, and will (generally) only be used in the same location that the seed originated from to conserve provenances. Trees that produce large seed stock are usually older, and less well formed from a sawlog perspective (more branches = moere flowers = more fruit) so you could argue that, yes, there is a level of selection for seed set, but this does not correlate well with good form (for timber).

    As far as provenances go, genetic testing has shown up some interesting trends - provenances tend to follow aspect, elevation and rainfall, so may be less localised than first thought. This varies across different species and across the state, so red gum provenances tend to coincide with more environmental factors, like salinity.