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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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Native species

The regeneration of cut-over native forests by seeding or planting with endemic species has been applied extensively in Australia. The establishment of plantations of native species on land which was formerly cultivated, or in areas to which they are not endemic, has by contrast taken place on a relatively minor scale. Overseas, on the other hand, plantations of Australian native species, mainly eucalypts, acacias and casuarinas, now exist on a vast scale. For eucalypts alone the area was estimated in 1985 to be 6 million ha, or about 17 per cent of the current area of native eucalypt forest in Australia, the main species being flooded gum, with river red gum, Tasmanian blue gum and forest red gum (E. tereticornis) also of importance. Much of the seed used for research and to establish pilot plantations overseas is obtained from Australian sources. Advice on which species and varieties are best suited for different uses and environments has been made available since 1962 through the Australian Tree Seed Centre, which is funded jointly by CSIRO, the Australian Development Aid Bureau and FAO. The Centre also participates in international trials of species and provenances.


Few plantations of commercial significance were established in Australia until the late 1950s and early 1960s when endemic mountain ash was planted, mainly on abandoned farmland, in the Strzelecki Ranges by APM and the Forests Commission of Victoria. APM also planted smaller areas of Tasmanian blue gum and some other species. In Western Australia brown mallet (E. astringens) plantations were established between 1927 and 1960 to supply bark for tannin extraction after natural stands of this species had been depleted. Substantial areas of flooded gum and blackbutt have been established since the 1960s in the coastal areas of northern NSW by the NSW Forestry Commission and APM and in north-west Tasmania Associated Pulp & Paper Mills (APPM) is establishing plantations of Tasmanian blue gum and shining gum (E. nitens) from Victoria and the Tasmanian Forestry Commission has some plantations of the excellent furniture timber species blackwood. Eucalypt plantations are also being used to rehabilitate open-cut bauxite mining areas in south-eastern Western Australia and Queensland.

The small area of eucalypt plantations (ca. 40 000 ha) has been primarily due to the ready availability of timber from native forests. Moreover, even though it has become increasingly difficult to get high quality eucalypt sawlogs because of past selective cutting and the loss of resource to national parks and the like, plantations have not been economically attractive for eucalypt sawlog production as a rotation age of 50 or more years has been considered necessary, about 50 per cent longer than for pines. In the case of pulpwood however, the reverse situation tends to apply, as the paper strength properties required from the eucalypts, namely tensile strength and stiffness, are attained at a relatively early age, while some of those for which the pines are used, such as tearing resistance and folding strength, take much longer to develop. APM established its eucalypt plantations in Gippsland and northern NSW with the intention of managing them intensively on a short rotation basis for pulpwood production. In 1984, however, APM sold most of its northern NSW plantations to the NSW Government, as they had become surplus to foreseeable requirements.

Unlike pines, eucalypts are not so readily established as open-rooted seedlings because of their high sensitivity to moisture stress and planting is therefore usually done either from or in containers. Hand planting has been used, as the areas involved have not been large enough to justify the development of appropriate planting machines and the terrain was often not suitable for their use.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Associated Pulp and Paper Mills (A.P.P.M.); Australian Development Aid Bureau; Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd (A.P.M.); Australian Tree Seed Centre; Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.); Forests Commission of Victoria; N.S.W. Forestry Commission; Tasmania. Forestry Commission

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 206 - 207, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher