Forest Biosecurity and Resource Assessment
Integrated decision support and management systems developed which provide an acceptable level of forest health protection.
- Minimise the introduction or establishment of exotic pests or diseases of forests and timber.
- Develop a system of forest health management that evaluates models and minimises pest and disease impacts on managed forests.
Pine plantation as a three-dimensional Lidar-derived canopy height model
The Forest Health Research team provides research and development of management options to digitally map, quantify and minimise the impact of damaging forest and plantation processes within current commercial, environmental and regulatory frameworks. The team’s surveillance activities and diagnostic capabilities enable it to provide routine reports on forest health status and assist it in detecting exotic incursions and potential outbreaks of pests and diseases of forests and timber. The team also carries out research into remote sensing technologies that can accurately and economically assess, for example, forest resource and canopy condition and develop site hazard rating models for managing predicted changes in local climatic conditions.
Surveys by the Forest Health Survey unit identify important pests, diseases, vertebrates, nutrients and weeds that may be limiting to growth and establishment of pine and eucalypt plantations, and that may need further research. Continued forest health surveys are essential to monitor and increase our knowledge of known pests and diseases and the factors influencing development of damaging outbreaks. Regular surveys also increase the probability of early detection of new pests and diseases, including exotic incursions.
Forest health surveillance using Digital Aerial Sketch-Mapping (DASM) software and digitising tablet
Forest Health Reports provide plantation owners and managers with a summary of important pests and diseases in their plantations, with recommendations on remedial or control action where appropriate. In most cases these options are discussed with relevant field staff soon after the survey. Through surveys and research on improving pest and disease management strategies we assist Forestry Corporation with the task of implementing Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management Plans.
Key research achievements
- Current pest and disease management strategies were reviewed and management efficiencies identified where appropriate to improve performance. Several research projects are aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of management strategies to reduce the impact of pests and diseases;
- I&I NSW is a Supporting Partner of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Forestry. Forest Health Research is making a significant in-kind contribution to the collaborative Research Program 1, “Managing and monitoring for growth and health” and, in particular, Project 1.2.2, “Measuring and managing forest health”. A key multi-focus study site for Program 1 is located in Green Hills State Forest, near Batlow, NSW;
- A project, supported by Forest and Wood Products Australia, will harness the benefits of high resolution lidar and multispectral imagery, and provide recommendations for its specific implementation. The procedures developed will enable the integration of these technologies into ground-based, lidar canopy and stem profiling, GPS linked harvest operations and the adoption of process based modelling for productivity estimates and carbon accounting.
- Forest eucalypt dieback associated with over-abundant psyllids and bell miners (BMAD) is gazetted as a “Key Threatening Process” after a formal determination by the NSW Scientific Committee. Our research has demonstrated that, through the fusion of lidar and multi-spectral satellite imagery, it is possible to apply a modelling system that accurately maps the current, and potential, distribution of BMAD. This information is essential for the planning and implementation of BMAD management strategies.
- The Termite and Power Pole Research (TAPPER) trial is driven by concerns within the industry about the efficacy of the chemicals used for controlling termites and a desire to optimise treatment practices. Several network operators have altered their termite treatment practices to take on board the findings of this research. Expectations are high that these changes will result in significant progress toward reducing the cost to the power supply industry of termite damage and treatment.
- Forestry Corporation, Plantations Operations, use annual forest health survey data to: determine correct predictions of pre-harvested wood volume in affected stands; adjust management regimes for “unhealthy” stands (e.g. bring thinning forward in drought affected stands); apply fertilisers or weed control to improve establishment, growth and survival of young trees; control spray for Dothistroma needle blight (Dothistroma septasporum), and increase trap tree plots in Sirex wood wasp (Sirex noctilio) infested areas;
An antique chest of drawers, infested by West Indian drywood termite, Cryptotermes brevis, was found in Sydney.
- The Forest Health Survey unit responded to a range of unplanned requests (including “call outs”) by Planted Forest Operations and Forestry Corporation Nurseries in response to pest and disease issues throughout the year, providing recommendations on management of problems.
Key research infrastructure
The Forest Health Research group is located at I&I NSW Forest Science Centre at West Pennant Hills, Sydney.
The forest insect and disease collections are a repository of biosecurity comparative material relating to plant pests affecting both forestry and timber products. Both collections are gazetted under the Agricultural Scientific Collections Trust Act NSW (1983). This achievement recognises the collections as valuable forestry resources and supports the long-term maintenance, improvement and management of all three collections.
The Forestry Commission of NSW Insect collection (FCNI) is a collection of over 50,000 Australian and exotic forest and forest product insect specimens.
The Forestry Disease Herbarium is a collection of approximately 3,500 tree and timber fungal specimens and fungal fruiting bodies and approximately 1500 fungal cultures.
Key research collaborations
- Australian Research Council - ARC Linkage Grants
- Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry
- Energy Networks Association Limited
- Forest and Wood Products Australia
- Port Macquarie Hastings Council (in-kind)
- Australian Quarantine Inspection Service - Northern Area Quarantine Surveys (NAQS)
- CRC for Forestry
- Charles Sturt University
- CSIRO Remote Sensing Unit
- CSIRO Entomology
- Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) - Agri-Search Queensland
- Forestry Tasmania
- Macquarie University
- Murdoch University, Western Australia
- Research Working Group 7 - Forest Health (PISC)
- University of Melbourne
- University of NSW
- University of Queensland
- University of Sydney
- University of Tasmania
- Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research
- CBS Fungal Diversity Centre, Netherlands;
- Forest and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria, South Africa;
- International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO);
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Science Advisory Panel for Sirex woodwasp.
The Forest Research Annual Reports provide summaries of research outputs for the past ten years.
Find a list of Forest Biosecurity and Resource Assessment scientists.
Research Leader, Forest Biosecurity and Resource Assessment
Phone: 02 9872 0126