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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 4

I Management Of Native Forests

II Plantations-high Productivity Resources
i Exotic pines
ii Native species

III Protecting The Resource

IV Harvesting The Resource

V Solid Wood And Its Processing

VI Minor Forest Products

VII Reconstituted Wood Products

VIII Pulp And Paper

IX Export Woodchips

X Future Directions

XI Acknowledgements



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Plantations-high Productivity Resources

Exotic pines

In 1876 the first plantation for timber production in Australia was started at Bundaleer, north of Adelaide. Among five pine species which showed promise the most outstanding was radiata pine (Pinus radiata), or as it was then known because of its fast growth rate, the remarkable pine (P. insignis), a native of California. Also encouraging was the performance of the maritime pine (P. pinaster) of the Mediterranean region.

The first commercial plantation in Victoria, also of radiata pine, was established in 1880 and this was soon followed by two others intended to provide work for miners unemployed because of the decline in gold production and to rehabilitate sluiced areas in the Ovens Valley. The suitability of this species was confirmed in later plantings but some failures were recorded in coastal areas. The first radiata pine plantations in Western Australia, to control coastal sand dune encroachment near Bunbury in 1897, also failed. By 1907, however, it was found that the maritime pine was better adapted to these poorer soil types and this became an important plantation species in Western Australia, with radiata pine being planted only on the better soils away from the coast.

In NSW various conifer species were grown in arboreta in the 1890s and the first radiata pine plantations established in 1914. Somewhat later slash pine (P. elliottii var. elliottii) from south-eastern USA was introduced in poor coastal country in northern NSW. Commercial slash pine planting began in Queensland in 1925 and this was followed by a number of other pine species, notably loblolly pine (P. taeda) and Honduran Caribbean pine (P. caribaea var. hondurensis). There has been little significant change since in the major exotic pine species planted in each of the States, except that the Honduran Caribbean pine now dominates Queensland plantings.

The first commercial use of plantation pine appears to have been at Wirrabara in South Australia in 1902. In the following year the SA Woods and Forests Department established its own sawmill for the purpose and this was followed later by others as the plantations expanded and new uses developed. Understandably there was some reluctance to accept this new timber but due to the dedication of Walter Gill, Conservator from 1890 to 1923, and the high standards set for quality and technology this was progressively overcome.

Privately-owned commercial pine plantations first appeared in the late 1920s and the 1930s, mainly in South Australia. After the Second World War their area began to increase markedly, particularly as Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. (APM) began to establish plantations in Victoria and Queensland as future pulpwood resources. The development of State-owned plantations was assisted from 1967 to 1977 by the Commonwealth Softwood Forestry Agreement Act, under which funds were provided to establish new pine plantations at an accelerated rate of about 30 000 ha/year, with the eventual goal of self-sufficiency in forest products.

Nutritional requirements

In the 1920s growth disorders observed in Western Australia stimulated a systematic study of the nutrition requirements of both maritime and radiata pine by Kessell and Stoate[6] of the WA Forests Department. This showed the importance of both phosphorus and zinc and that the disorders observed on poor sites could be corrected by application of one or both of these elements. Stoate later co-operated in similar studies in south-eastern South Australia which led to the adoption of zinc spraying as standard practice in pine plantation establishment there since the late 1930s.[7] The importance of phosphorus was also established in radiata pine plantations in southern NSW and loblolly and slash pine in Queensland at about the same time. Work in the late 1950s by Waring[8] of the Forest Research Institute showed that, contrary to earlier findings, nitrogen addition could also be beneficial to radiata pine, provided it was applied during the first few years and when there was no deficiency of phosphorus and weeds were controlled. The need to correct for potassium deficiency in some areas was demonstrated by Hall and Raupach[9] in a joint APM/CSIRO study in the early 1960s. Examples of copper and boron deficiencies and sulphur imbalance were noted by other workers.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd (A.P.M.); CSIRO Division of Forest Research; South Australia. Woods and Forests Dept; Western Australia. Forests Department

People in Bright Sparcs - Gill, Walter; Hall, M. J.; Kessell, S. L.; Raupach, M.; Stoate, T. N.; Waring, H. D.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 201 - 202, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher