Plan­ning for­est plan­ta­tions for the fu­ture

Australian Forests and Timber - - In the News - By Steve Ni­chol­son Di­rec­tor of Sus­tain­abil­ity at So­laris Pa­per

TIM­BER IS one of the most ver­sa­tile re­sources in the world. It is used for every­thing from hous­ing to tools and even en­ergy. This begs the ques­tion, can the de­mand for tim­ber keep up with Earth’s nat­u­ral forests? It is im­per­a­tive that the forestry in­dus­try in Aus­tralia as well as lo­ca­tions such as In­done­sia and Brazil, who rely heav­ily on for­est as a re­source, adapt to max­imis­ing smaller ar­eas while still pro­duc­ing qual­ity out­puts.

The de­vel­op­ment and man­age­ment of for­est plan­ta­tions are un­avoid­able if we are to save nat­u­ral forests and bring a halt to de­for­esta­tion. It is im­por­tant for the global for­est in­dus­try to fo­cus on how plan­ta­tions are de­vel­oped, sus­tained, and pro­tected in or­der to keep the forestry in­dus­try as well as the nat­u­ral forests pro­tected.

The de­vel­op­ment of for­est plan­ta­tions has pos­i­tive ef­fects in not only low­er­ing the car­bon count and pro­vid­ing more oxy­gen into the en­vi­ron­ment but, Eu­ca­lyp­tus Pel­lita plan­ta­tions in In­done­sia cre­ate re­new­able raw ma­te­rial which are used to pro­duce pulp and en­ergy. On top of that, Eu­ca­lyp­tus Pel­lita trees are of great value to the en­vi­ron­ment due to the ef­fi­cient use of water. Plan­ta­tions pro­vide new nat­u­ral spa­ces, re­cover de­graded or un­us­able soils and en­rich land­scapes.

Plan­ta­tions in Aus­tralia are de­vel­oped sim­i­larly to other re­gions in the Asia-Pa­cific with the main dif­fer­ence be­ing the preparation of soil and the cli­mate. For ex­am­ple, Eu­ca­lyp­tus plan­ta­tions in In­done­sia are al­ways very high in pro­duc­tiv­ity. This is be­cause all the con­di­tions nec­es­sary for a tree to grow are present - well dis­trib­uted rain and hot tem­per­a­tures through­out the year. These con­di­tions are what makes In­done­sia such a vi­able lo­ca­tion for plan­ta­tion de­vel­op­ment. In Aus­tralia, the win­ter sea­son brings a sharp drop in tem­per­a­ture and dur­ing sum­mer a dry pe­riod in which there are weeks without rain, slow­ing down the growth of trees. This is ev­i­dent in the growth of Eu­ca­lyp­tus trees that take about five years to ma­ture in In­done­sia, whereas the same tree would take about seven years in Aus­tralia.

An­other as­pect of the en­vi­ron­ment that can cause is­sues and dam­ag­ing im­pacts for for­est plan­ta­tions is for­est fires. Dur­ing the Aus­tralian sum­mer, for­est plan­ta­tions suf­fer from ex­tremely hot weather and lit­tle rain, the dry con­di­tions make bush fires a com­mon and dan­ger­ous re­al­ity. This threat is not only rel­e­vant in Aus­tralia but also in other for­est re­gions such as In­done­sia. In ad­di­tion to nat­u­ral cli­mate causes such as El Nino con­di­tions, “slash and burn” prac­tices used in farm­ing, land clear­ing, ar­son, and ac­ci­den­tal fires are all con­ces­sions that re­late to fires af­fect­ing for­est plan­ta­tions. These fires and the risk of fu­ture fires have forced the forestry in­dus­try to take ac­tion.

Pre­ven­tion, de­tec­tion, and sup­pres­sion are three tech­niques that many for­est plan­ta­tions have adopted. With burn bans and the mon­i­tor­ing of plan­ta­tions from above as well as from the ground is an im­por­tant as­pect of de­tect­ing fires be­fore they get out of con­trol. Asia Pulp & Pa­per Group (APP), in In­done­sia, con­tin­u­ously re­search and trial tech­nolo­gies such as ther­mal cam­eras, in­frared cam­eras and mini satel­lites that pro­vide high level data in de­tect­ing fire “hot spots”. This gives fire­fight­ers the abil­ity to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion and some­times stop a fire be­fore it hap­pens. Fire­fight­ers use dif­fer­ent tech­niques, equip­ment, and train­ing de­pend­ing on the type of for­est, the size of the fire and ter­rain.

The pulp and pa­per in­dus­try’s most im­por­tant raw ma­te­rial is pulp­wood. APP, re­lies on the prin­ci­ples of sus­tain­able for­est man­age­ment in man­ag­ing pulp­wood plan­ta­tions to en­sure con­tin­ual pro­duc­tion and growth within a healthy for­est ecosys­tem. Com­pa­nies strive to max­imise their plan­ta­tions and in do­ing so prac­tice zero de­for­esta­tion.

As the world con­tin­ues to gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the im­pact cli­mate change and de­for­esta­tion is hav­ing on the planet it is ob­vi­ous that ac­tions need to be taken. Or­gan­i­sa­tions should strive to put poli­cies in place which com­mit to only de­vel­op­ing ar­eas that are not forested, as iden­ti­fied through in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ments. Or­gan­i­sa­tions also need to play their part in sup­port­ing pri­vate and gov­ern­ment tar­gets to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions.

With con­tin­ued global de­mand for tim­ber and prod­ucts made from trees, the forestry in­dus­try re­mains in­te­gral. It is im­per­a­tive that the in­dus­try in­vests in sus­tain­able prac­tices within for­est plan­ta­tions. By strate­gi­cally de­vel­op­ing, pro­tect­ing and man­ag­ing plan­ta­tions in a sus­tain­able way, they can be the crutch for the for­est in­dus­try to meet de­mands and sup­port zero de­for­esta­tion.

With con­tin­ued global de­mand for tim­ber and prod­ucts made from trees, the forestry in­dus­try re­mains in­te­gral.

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