TCFA Research into alternatives to clearfelling in old growth forests (final report)
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This document reports on the outputs from the $2 million research programme - Research into Alternatives to Clearfelling in Old Growth Forests - funded by the Australian Government under the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (TCFA) and described in the programme’s 2006 Operating Plan
Clause 30 of the TCFA commits the governments to jointly fund a package of forest operations and management, industry development and research and development activities. Clause 76(i) of the TCFA committed the Australian Government to a contribution of $2 million towards research into alternatives to clearfelling to help facilitate a significant reduction in the use of clearfell harvesting in old growth forests. The intended consequence of the programme was to phase in non-clearfelling techniques so that, by 2010, no more than 20 per cent of the area of old growth forest harvested each year on public land in Tasmania would be clearfelled.
This contribution supplements the $11.1 million being invested by the Tasmanian Government into further research and implementation, including training and support for harvesting contractors and complements separate TCFA investments in intensive forest management and hardwood industry development.
The objective of the programme was to identify, commission and report on research into alternatives to clearfelling old growth forests on public land in Tasmania.
The research programme covered silviculture, biodiversity, forest health, safety, productivity and social and economic issues. The programme was delivered by appointment of two research fellows, engagement of several specialist consultants and exchanges of experience between Tasmanian, Canadian and American VR (variable retention) practitioners and trainers. The programme commenced in late 2005 and was essentially completed by October 2010.
Outputs of the programme included:
- Research and field trials, including economic analysis, of alternatives to clearfelling (see Appendix 1);
- A growing list of science publications stands at 20 journal publications, 16 reports and non-refereed publications, 4 theses and 22 conference presentations (see Appendix 2);
- Assistance to Forestry Tasmania in convening a panel of international experts in forest conservation and management;
- A research base as the focal point for an international conference – Old Forests New Management - as part of a review of the Warra-based research programme and recommendations on future directions;
- A science-based review and formal evaluation of the programme by Forestry Tasmania
- This report from the Technical Support Group to the Implementation Committee.
The funding provided by the Research into Alternatives to Clearfelling in Old Growth Forests programme has enabled substantial progress on researching the forest management issues involved in clear felling of old growth forests and alternative harvesting approaches in order to assist forest managers reduce the extent of clearfelling in old growth forests.
In Tasmania’s tall old growth forests, the main silvicultural alternative to clearfelling has been the development of variable retention silviculture as described in the Variable Retention Manual. This research programme has provided assurance that the VR technique can be safely and effectively implemented in old growth forests and is supported by soundly-based science, validated by peer-reviewed papers. This work has been fully evaluated in 2009 in a major report titled A New Silviculture for Tasmania’s Public Forests.
Since the inception of the TCFA in 2005 and up until June 30 2010, 38 coupes, totalling 1 400 ha, have been harvested using the variable retention (VR) technique.
The variable retention technique is now proven for use in tall old growth forests. Forestry Tasmania believes it has a capacity, within operational, economic and safety constraints, to undertake around 1000 ha of variable retention on State forest annually.
The current priority is to use this capacity to meet the TCFA target to achieve non-clearfell silviculture in a minimum of 80 per cent of the annual old growth harvest area on public land. In the longer term there may be more ecologically beneficial ways of allocating that capacity over the whole commercial native forest estate rather than focussing it overly on defined old growth forest.
The programme’s governance framework has been headed by a high-level, joint Australian and Tasmanian Government implementation committee (IC) of:
- Dr Hans Drielsma, Executive General Manager, Forestry Tasmania, Tasmanian Government
- Mr Tony Bartlett (until 2008)/ Mr John Talbot (from 2009), General Manager, Forest Industries, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), Australian Government
The IC has overseen the programme and has been informed by a Technical Support Group of:
- Mr John Hickey, Forestry Tasmania
- Dr John Davidson, Bureau of Rural Sciences (until 2009)
- Dr Steve Read, Forestry Tasmania
- Dr Mark Neyland, Forestry Tasmania.
The terms of reference for the Technical Support Group were to:
- analyse and provide advice to the IC on research and extension outputs as they are finalised;
- support the review of the Warra research programme and help convene the 2007 International Conference for this purpose; and
- draft annual activity reports for consideration by the IC and provision to Ministers.
During the rollout of the programme, consultation occurred with forest industry stakeholders including the Forests and Forest Industry Council and Timber Communities Australia through a Variable Retention Advisory Group (VRAG), and with forest practices specialists and researchers through the CRC-Forestry. Consultation with operational staff was facilitated through a Variable Retention Implementation Group (VRIG).
Communication activities have focussed on timely and regular announcements of key outcomes. These have included:
- A major communication strategy around the Old Forests New Management conference.
- Several public talks as part of Forestry Tasmania’s Forestry Talks series.
- Two television segments as part of the Southern Cross Going Bush series televised in Tasmania in 2009 and 2010.
- Two field meetings with stakeholders represented on the Variable Retention Advisory Group (VRAG).
- One field meeting with policy, regulatory and research stakeholders convened by the Cooperative Research Centre for Forestry.
- Briefings to Commonwealth and State Ministers and other politicians around the public launch of A New Silviculture for Tasmania’s Public Forests in May 2009.
- A segment on ABC Tasmania’s Stateline program in 2009.
- Permanent interpretative displays (field trials, research summaries) at the Tahune AirWalk including a DVD presentation on research at the adjacent Warra Long Term Ecological Research site.
- A well-maintained website of key publications arising from the programme.
The programme’s research items, outcomes and budgeted versus actual expenditure is outlined in Appendix 1.
It shows that $2.2 million has been spent across the five key subject areas. The modest cost overrun was due to the extensive sampling required for evaluation of effects on biodiversity and has been met from the Tasmanian Government’s contribution to the TCFA.
All research projects have met reporting goals. Two of the key researchers recruited for the programme are continuing their research through post-doctoral and PhD studies with some supporting funds provided under the programme. No further funding commitments are required.
Engage researcher in variable retention (VR) silviculture
Monitor outcomes from operational VR coupes and facilitate the identification and development of best practices
Visit by operational experts in VR from Pacific North-West
Provide advice on best practice solutions from VR implementation in the Pacific North-West
Development of updated VR silviculture and thinning manuals
Prepare a preliminary silviculture manual to guide harvesting and regeneration practices at initial trial sites. Progresses to final, comprehensive manual arising from experience during the program, to be accompanied by a revised thinning manual.
Visit by key research/operational staff to VR management areas in Pacific North-West
Enable access to best practice examples in :
Budget: $0.78 million
Engage biodiversity researcher for VR-related issues
Coordinate analyses of biodiversity responses to Warra trials and evaluate habitat in VR coupes for birds and hollow-dwelling mammals
Completed in September 2010.
Engage data manager for Warra site
Curate data for silvicultural systems trial, set up metadata base, facilitate data storage and retrieval
Complete 1- and 3-year post-harvest biodiversity assessments at Warra site
Budget: $0.76 million
Assessing health and integrity of aggregates at age three
Forest health surveillance to ground check aerial surveys
Assessing risk to landscape from incomplete burning of VR coupes
Develop existing work and combine with Warra site data and experience from operational coupes
Assessing VR browsing risks
Additional assessment work required
Budget: $0.12 million
Evaluation of a range of trial sites
Employment of a consultant for a detailed review and evaluation of these sites
Harvesting technology improvement
Review of technology improvements that may facilitate safe, cost effective VR harvesting
Budget: $0.08 million
Timber yield modelling
Model the timber yield implications of VR using sensitivity analyses to determine the feasibility of maintaining 300 000 m3/y sawlog target from State forests.
Long term soil impacts
Compare 2001 and 2006 soil chemical and physical properties on the same clearfell site to determine whether lower intensity burning is warranted
Budget: $0.08 million
Social and Economic
Economic evaluation of operational VR coupes
Review of cost data, including unit costs to growers, contractors and processors, with net present value analyses
Implications of VR for the Leatherwood resource
Undertake Beekeeping resource consultancy
Research high value markets for old growth timber
Undertake Economic consultancy
Social acceptability study
Undertake Social Acceptability consultancy.
Interpretation of the Warra trials
Budget: $0.18 million
Budget: $2.00 million
The publications listed here describe research on forest ecology and forest management funded by the Research into Alternatives to Clearfelling in Old Growth Forests component of the Tasmanian Community Forestry Agreement which commenced in 2005, or research that was performed at sites established for or maintained by this programme.
This listing includes 20 journal publications, 16 reports and non-refereed publications,
4 theses (2 Doctoral and 2 Honours) and 22 conference presentations/papers.
Baker SC, Grove SJ, Forster L, Bonham KJ, Bashford D (2009) Short-term responses of ground-active beetles to alternative silvicultural systems in the Warra Silvicultural Systems Trial, Tasmania, Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 258: 444-459
Baker, S., Neyland, M. & Grove, S. (2010). Using aggregated retention to maintain and restore mature forest values in managed forest landscapes. Project summary. Ecological Management and Restoration. 11(1): 82
Baker SC, Read SM (2010,
submitted) Variable retention silviculture in Tasmania’s wet forests: ecological rationale, adaptive management and synthesis of biodiversity benefits.
Ford RM, Williams KJH, Bishop ID, Hickey JE (2009) Public judgements of the social acceptability of silvicultural alternatives in Tasmanian wet eucalypt forests. Australian Forestry 72: 157-171
Ford RM, Williams KJ, Bishop ID, Hickey JE (2009) Effects of information on the social acceptability of alternatives to clearfelling in Australian wet eucalypt forests. EnvironmentalManagement 44: 1149-62
Ford RM, Williams KJ, Bishop ID, Webb TJ (2009) A value basis for the social acceptability of clearfelling in Tasmania, Australia.
Landscape and Urban Planning 90: 196-206
Gates GM, Ratkowsky, D. A. and Grove SJ (2005) A comparison of macrofungi in young silvicultural regeneration and mature forest at the Warra LTER Site in the southern forests of Tasmania. Tasforests 16: 127-152
Gates GM, Ratkowsky DA, Grove SJ (2009) Aggregated retention and macrofungi: a case study from the Warra LTER site, Tasmania. Tasforests 18: 33-54
Hickey JE, Neyland MG, Grove SJ, Edwards LG (2006) From little things big things grow: The Warra Silvicultural Systems Trial in Tasmanian wet Eucalyptus obliqua forest. Allgemeine Forst und Jagdzeitung 177: 113-119
Hingston AB, Grove S (2009) From clearfell coupe to old-growth forest: Succession of bird assemblages in Tasmanian lowland wet eucalypt forests. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 459-468
Hopkins AJM, Harrison KS, Grove SJ, Wardlaw TJ, Mohammed CL (2005) Wood decay fungi and beetle assemblages associated with living Eucalyptus obliqua trees: early results from studies at the Warra Long Term Ecological Research Site, Tasmania. Tasforests 16: 111-126
Kantvilas G, Jarman SJ (2006) Recovery of lichens after logging: preliminary results from Tasmania's wet forests. The Lichenologist 38: 383-394
Lauck B, Swain R, Bashford R (2008) The response of the frog Crinia signifera to different silvicultural practices in southern Tasmania, Australia. Tasforests 17: 29-36
Lefort P, Grove SJ (2009) Early responses of birds to clearfelling and its alternatives in lowland wet eucalypt forest in Tasmania, Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 258: 460-471
Neyland M, Hickey J, Beadle C, Bauhus J, Davidson N, Edwards L (2009) An examination of stocking and early growth in the Warra silvicultural systems trial confirms the importance of a burnt seedbed for vigorous regeneration in Eucalyptus obliqua forest. Forest Ecology and Management 258: 481-494
Neyland MG, Hickey JE, Edwards LG (2009) Safety and productivity at the Warra silvicultural systems trial. Tasforests 18: 1-16
Nyvold U, Dawson JK, Hickey JE (2005) An assessment of timber values from alternative silvicultural systems tested in wet Eucalyptus obliqua forest in Tasmania. Tasforests 16: 19-34
Ratkowsky DA, Gates GM (2008) Macrofungi in early stages of forest regeneration in Tasmania's southern forests. Tasforests 18: 56-66
Rothe A, Hickey JE, Clark SB (2008) Effects of sapling density on E. obliqua sapling architecture in a clearfell and a dispersed retention coupe. Tasforests 17: 45-56
Williams K, Ford R, Bishop ID, Loiterton D, Hickey J (2007) Realism and selectivity in datadriven visualisations: A process for developing viewer-oriented landscape surrogates. Landscape andUrban Planning 81: 213-224
2 Publication list as at February 2011
Reports and non-refereed publications
Baker S, Grove SJ, McElwee D, Neyland M, Read S, Scott R, Wardlaw T (2009) Ecological goals, biodiversity outcomes, and performance measures for aggregated retention coupes. Division of Forest Research and Development Technical Report 03/2009. Forestry Tasmania, Hobart
Chuter R (2007) Feasibility of burning debris from wet eucalypt forests harvested to an aggregated retention prescription. Division of Forest Research and Development Technical Report 10/2007. Forestry Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
Forestry Tasmania (2009) Draft Variable Retention Manual. Version 9. Forestry Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
Forestry Tasmania (2009) A new silviculture for Tasmania's public forests: a review of the variable retention program. Forestry Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
Garandel M, Deltombe M, Baker S, Neyland M (2009) Observation of vascular plant seedling responses to burning and aggregated retention silviculture. Division of Forest Research and Development Technical Report 02/2009. Forestry Tasmania, Hobart
Grove SJ, Neyland MG (2005) How ‘natural’ is the response of biodiversity to clearfelling and to alternative silvicultural systems in Tasmanian wet eucalypt forest? International Forestry Review 7: 325. Abstract of oral presentation at XXII IUFRO World Congress, Brisbane, Queensland
Hickey JE (2005) Alternatives to clearfell silviculture in tall old-growth forests in Tasmania. The International Forestry Review 7: 40. Abstract of oral presentation at XXII IUFRO World Congress, Brisbane, Queensland
Howard G (2008) Safety implications of aggregated retention harvesting. Report to the Variable Retention Safety and Training sub-committee of the Forest Industry Safety Standards Committee
Law B, Law P (2010) Baseline sampling of bats in aggregated retention coupes and other silvicultural treatments at Warra. Unpublished report to Forestry Tasmania, 15 pp.
Leaman T, Gao R, Hickey J (2008) Changes to oldgrowth forest management in Tasmanian State forests and the implications for the leatherwood nectar resource. Report to the TCFA Research Implementation Committee
Leech M (2008) Researching high-value markets for eucalypt timber from oldgrowth forests in Tasmania. Report to the TCFA Research Implementation Committee
McElwee D, Baker S (2009) Regeneration burn escapes into unharvested forest from aggregated retention and clearfelled coupes 2007-2009. Division of Forest Research and Development Technical Report 15/2009. Forestry Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
McLarin M (2008) Modelling of timber yield implications of Variable Retention. Report to the TCFA Implementation Committee
Native Forests Branch (2009) Variable Retention Manual, Forestry Tasmania, Hobart.
Scott R (2007) Calculating retention and influence levels for variable retention coupes in tall wet eucalypt forests. Division of Forest Research and Development, Technical Report No. 9/2007. Forestry Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
Scott R, Baker S (2008) Update on variable retention research. Forest Practices News 8: 10-11
Gates GM (2009) Coarse woody debris, macrofungal assemblages, and sustainable forest management in a Eucalyptus obliqua forest of southern Tasmania. Doctoral thesis, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
Hindrum L (2009) The effects of mechanical disturbance and burn intensity on the floristic composition of two-year old aggregated retention coupes in southern Tasmania. Honours Thesis, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
Neyland MG (2010) The response of the vegetation to a range of alternatives to clearfelling of tall wet eucalypt forests at the Warra silvicultural systems trial, Tasmania, Australia. Doctoral thesis, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
Strutt O (2007) Edge effects on bryophytes in the retained aggregates of a harvested wet eucalypt forest coupe in southern Tasmania. Honours thesis, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
Baker S (2009) Retencion variable in los bosques antiguos de Tasmania. Cuarto Seminario de Biometria y Produccion de Nothofagus, University of La Plata, Argentina
Baker SC, Grove SJ, Read SM, Wardlaw TJ (2008) Variable retention and biodiversity: Forestry Tasmania’s goals and monitoring program. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Baker S, Chuter A, Spencer C, Edwards L, Wotherspoon K, Koch A, Munks S (2008) Habitat tree retention in alternatives to clearfelling. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Baker S, Grove S (2009) Biodiversity responses to alternatives to clearfelling at the Warra Silvicultural Systems Trial, Tasmania, Australia. Poster, 13th World Forestry Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Baker SC, Spencer C, Chuter A, Koch A, Edwards LG, Munks S (2008) Habitat tree retention in alternatives to clearfelling. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Baker S, Deltombe D, Garandel M, Neyland M (2009) Vascular plant seedling responses to burning and aggregated retention silviculture. Poster, 10th International Congress of Ecology, Brisbane, Australia
Baker S, Grove S (2009) Biodiversity responses to alternatives to clearfelling at the Warra Silvicultural Systems Trial, Tasmania, Australia. Oral presentation,10th International Congress of Ecology, Brisbane, Australia
Gates G, Ratkowsky D, Grove SJ (2008) How well does aggregated retention cater for early and late successional macrofungi? Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference,Hobart, Tasmania
Grove S, Hopkins A, Harrison C, Yee M, Stamm L, Wardlaw T, Mohammed C (2008) Coarse woody debris, old trees and biodiversity conservation in production forests. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Grove SJ, Baker SC, Bashford R, Forster L, Bonham K, Lewis-Jones R, Brown G (2008) Early responses of ground-active beetle assemblages to clearfelling and its alternatives at Warra, Tasmania. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Kantvilas G, Jarman J, Minchin P (2008) Lichens and bryophytes: Little plants, big message. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Lefort P, Grove SJ (2008) Early responses of bird assemblages to clearfelling and its alternatives at Warra, Tasmania. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Neyland MG (2005) Seedling regeneration, growth and density of Eucalyptus obliqua following variable retention harvesting in wet eucalypt forests in Tasmania, Australia. Poster paper presented at the XXIII IUFRO conference, Forests in the Balance: Linking Tradition and Technology,Brisbane, Australia
Neyland MG (2005) Understorey islands as a means of conserving structural and plant diversity within harvested wet eucalypt forests in Tasmania. Paper presented at the XXIII IUFRO conference, Forests in the Balance: Linking Tradition and Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Neyland M, Ziegeler D (2008) The impact of harvesting disturbance on the floristics of the Warra silvicultural systems trial. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Neyland M, Hickey J, Bauhus J, Beadle C, Davidson N, Edwards LG (2008) Stocking and early growth of the regeneration in the Warra silvicultural systems trial, Tasmania, Australia. Proceedings of the OldForests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Neyland, M.G., (2010) Silvicultural performance of alternatives to clearfelling in lowland wet eucalypt forests: Findings from long-term research at Warra, Tasmania. Presentation to the VI Southern Connections Congress held in Bariloche, Argentina, February 15 to 19, 2010
Read SM, Grove S, Baker S (2009). Long-Term Ecological Research at Warra: science to policy, science to land management. Invited paper, 10th International Congress of Ecology, Brisbane, Australia
Rothe A, Neyland M, Hickey J (2008) Is single tree selection suitable for Tasmania’s wet eucalypt forests? Lessons from the European experience. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Scott R (2008) Developing variable retention silviculture in Tasmania. Proceedings of the Old Forests, NewManagement Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
Stephens H, O’Reilly-Wapstra J, Baker S, Munks S, Potts B (2009) Aggregated retention and mammal conservation in old growth forests. Poster, 10th International Congress of Mammalogy, Mendoza, Argentina
Yee M, Gao R, Grove SJ, Hickey J (2008) Measuring forest maturity within an experimental forest landscape to inform conservation planning in Tasmania. Proceedings of the Old Forests, New Management Conference, Hobart, Tasmania