SFF Project Summary

Project Title: Integrated Monitoring and Protection of New Zealandís Production Forest Industry
Grant No.: 07/092
   

Contact Details

Name of Applicant Group: NZ Forest Owners Association
Contact Person: Bill Dyck
Address: NZ Forest Owners Association
PO Box 1208
Telephone 1: 04 4734769
Telephone 2:
Facsimile: 04 4998893
Email: BillDyck@xtra.co.nz

Project Details

Status: finished
SFF Funding: 260,064
Total Project Funding: 602,625
Proposed Start Date: 2007-07
Proposed Finish Date: 2010-06
Region: National
Sector: Forestry
Sub-sector:
Topic: Pest & disease


Updated: 27 Februaruy 2012

Final report

Forest Condition Monitoring End of Project Report

Latest update

Forest Conditioning Monitoring Programme 2010 Report

Forest Conditioning Monitoring Data Collection of Pre 1990 LUCAS - Exotic Forest Network

Sampling Strategy for a New Zealand Forest Condition Monitoring Programme [1.85M PDF]

Forest Condition Monitoring (FCM) of Pinus radiata in New Zealand [4.06M PDF]

Project description

The project aims to develop a Forest Condition Monitoring system to enable the forest industry and the Government to better report on the condition of our plantation forests.

A successfully operating Forest Condition Monitoring system will provide a much more defensible indicator of sustainability than what we have now and will demonstrate through trends if forests are becoming less healthy for whatever reason and thereby trigger remedial action.

The issue/opportunity

New Zealand does not have a systematic way to monitor and report on the condition of its forests and therefore we can not state with any certainty the impact of any management practices, biotic agents, or environmental influences on our forests or soils over time.

The opportunity is to develop a system to monitor the condition of NZ plantation forests to provide assurance and greater certainty to support market claims of sustainability, demonstrate good stewardship, detect changes in forest condition to trigger remedial action, and provide assurance that forestry practices are “safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems” . In addition, such a system will help meet NZ Government international reporting obligations.

The context/background

Plantation forests cover 1.8 million ha of NZ. 42% is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and requires increasingly stringent verification of sustainability for continued market access. Additionally, forest owners are incurring productivity losses in the order of $150M/yr due to forest health problems alone. There is anecdotal evidence of forest decline, and many sites are supporting plantation stands at sub-optimal production levels, because of sub-optimal health, nutrition, or silvicultural practices. Across the 40,000 ha harvested each year, a 1% increase in productivity equates to an annual revenue gain of $10 million.

The proposed FCM will provide a systematic way to monitor and report on the condition of our forests to support market claims of sustainability to trigger remedial action in situations where productivity decline is detected.

Methods

A Forest Condition Monitoring system will be developed and implemented that:

1. Integrates crown transparency monitoring (as an indicator of forest health and nutritional status) with the existing Permanent Sample Plot (PSP) system that monitors stand production.

2. Includes Permanent Health Plots (PHPs) that can be used to assess the forest health status, including both tree and soil condition, and

3. Includes organisational aspects that enable all forest owners to use the system to monitor and report on the condition of their plantation forests.

Latest update

The Forest Condition Monitoring project is on track to complete the revised milestone schedule, although results from Milestone 8 indicate concern in two areas (1) the heavy reliance on typing in with the LUCAS programme in order to keep costs down, and (2) reliance on human skills to monitor crown transparency and defoliation.

The Cost Model component of Milestone 8 indicates reasonable costs provided LUCAS carbon monitoring continues. This MS task was based on actual times and costs from MS 5. The project found that it takes longer to measure transparency than originally estimated by Scion.

Preliminary results from Milestone 7 indicate that human measurements may not be reliable enough to provide confidence in the system. This is the case for both crown transparency and defoliation. The project needs to reassess the use of LIDAR and other remote sensing technology to provide a more robust measure of crown condition.

The next step is to receive Milestone 7 reports; to summarise the situation; and make recommendations to FOA Executive.


Update

The Forest Condition Monitoring programme has been working closely with the LUCAS carbon monitoring team to assess the performance of the FCM system. Results from winter 2010 sampling are very promising and plans are underway to update the FCM manual, develop a new cost model to fully understand the ongoing operational costs of the system, and reassess the potential opportunity to use LiDAR technology to reduce these costs.


Update

Latest findings from the Forest Condition Monitoring project indicate that a number of sampling designs are possible, but each has advantages and disadvantages. The project Steering Committee plans to meet at the end of March 2010 and to make a decision on which design to use.

The Forest Condition Monitoring project has produced a report that outlines the criteria that could be used to monitor for forest condition. Additionally, in conjunction with the MAF Carbon Monitoring project, the application of LIDAR has been evaluated as a potential remote technology to assess crown condition. Based on this report, LIDAR shows considerable potential and is currently being evaluated in more detail.

The project also commissioned a report to evaluate the usefulness of monitoring soil quality over time to provide an indication of sustainability. From a review of soil quality and forest productivity literature, four soil quality indicators were identified as influenced by management of a forest site. They have been denoted as Tier 1 indicators, and are: Total C; Total N; C:N ratio; and Bulk density. At this stage there is not enough confidence in the ability of monitoring soil criteria as an indicator of forest condition and sustainability to include soil quality monitoring in an operational Forest Condition Monitoring system. However, further investigations will take place.

A recent project report, evaluating the opportunities for using LIDAR to monitor forest condition, indicates that much more research is required to develop the technology. Because of this the project will progress a ground-based system and move to LIDAR when it can.


Update

A recent project report, evaluating the opportunities for using LIDAR to monitor forest condition, indicates that much more research is required to develop the technology. Because of this the project will progress a ground-based system and move to LIDAR when it can.


Update

The Forest Condition Monitoring project has produced a report that outlines the criteria that could be used to monitor for forest condition. Additionally, in conjunction with the MAF Carbon Monitoring project, the application of LIDAR has been evaluated as a potential remote technology to assess crown condition. Based on this report, LIDAR shows considerable potential and is currently being evaluated in more detail.

The project also commissioned a report to evaluate the usefulness of monitoring soil quality over time to provide an indication of sustainability. From a review of soil quality and forest productivity literature, four soil quality indicators were identified as influenced by management of a forest site. They have been denoted as Tier 1 indicators, and are: Total C; Total N; C: N ratio; and Bulk density.

At this stage there is not enough confidence in the ability of monitoring soil criteria as an indicator of forest condition and sustainability to include soil quality monitoring in an operational Forest Condition Monitoring system. However, further investigations will take place.