SFF Project Summary

A practical set of web-based forestry decision-support tools for farmers and small woodlot owners

Project Title: A practical set of web-based forestry decision-support tools for farmers and small woodlot owners
Grant No.: 01/183

Contact Details

Name of Applicant Group: Southern High Country Branch of the NZ Farm Forestry Assn
Contact Person: Dr Euan Mason
Address: School of Forestry
University of Canterbury
Private Bag
Bruce Bulloch
NZ Farm Forestry Association
PO Box 1122
Telephone 1: 03 364 2584
Telephone 2:

Project Details

Status: finished
SFF Funding: 68,497
Total Project Funding: 107,706
Proposed Start Date: 2001-07
Proposed Finish Date: 2002-06
Region: National
Sector: Forestry
Sub-sector: Farm forestry
Topic: Decision management and support
Land development opportunities
Alternative land use

Website: www.forestry.ac.nz/euan/sppchc/sppchc.htm
Final Report: Final Report

Project description

The objective of this proposal is to build a prototype mechanism for the delivery of forestry knowledge and scenario testing for farmers in an appropriately scaled decision-support package, that is easily accessible and in a familiar computing idiom. The prototype will include a forestry-oriented data storage and retrieval mechanism for web-based software, and a linked species choice decision support package that all run in a web browser. Forestry in the South Island high country will be used as a test case.

The project is sponsored by the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association. The development group comprises Euan Mason (School of Forestry), Nick Ledgard (Forest Research), Dave Lane (Egressive Ltd.), & Patrick Milne.

Problem/opportunity that the project is addressing

Although pastoral farming in NZ is currently experiencing higher than normal prices, the long-term trend has been one of modest returns relative to increasing costs. Farmers therefore wish to diversify their land use activities. In the hill and high country, the main diversification options are tourism, horticulture and tree planting. The first two options are very site and personality dependent, whilst the third can be practiced readily on most farms to enhance economic and environmental sustainability.

Planting trees on farmland can greatly improve environmental performance. Trees produce 10100 times more dry matter/ha than Hieracium and will lead to increased levels of soil organic matter. In addition, exotic conifers enhance the availability of nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur in high country soils.

Studies of the financial impacts of tree planting on farms suggest that appropriately sited and well managed woodlots can greatly enhance farm values. Improvement of the high country environment through tree planting therefore also offers the opportunity for land-owners to supplement their incomes through the sale of wood products.

Although there is increasing interest in trees, the fact is that there is little actual tree establishment being carried out by farmers. The practical results of research undertaken by the NZ forestry community using public funds are not as readily accessible to farmers as they could be, therefore reducing the opportunity to enhance sustainability using trees. Progress to date

A prototype high country species selection tool has been created. The prototype application is ready for users to try out at: www.forestry.ac.nz/euan/sppchc/sppchc.htm

Draft data structure specifications have been drawn up. Other forestry software developers have been consulted about the storage standard and they are supportive.