Forest Management -
Tree Improvement Research
The success of commercial forest plantations is largely due to continuous research in tree improvement. Most of this work has been done through traditional breeding programs, with recent advances in clonal tree propagation enhancing the traditional approach.
Tree breeding has also allowed species that were in danger of disappearing from certain areas, such as the American chestnut, to be used again, effectively restoring a species that was doomed to continual disease attack by an imported pest.
Improvement benefits commercial plantations that are traditionally associated with a specific species, yet it is techniques learned there that have proven to be beneficial to other native species as well.
At Forest Solutions, we understand the importance of tree breeding and what it means to continuous productivity in a planted forest as well as the conservation of threatened tree populations. Simple steps, such as site-species matching and even site-provenance matching are powerful tools to improve the productivity of forest projects.
While establishing the 20,000 acre forest plantation project on the Big Island, we worked with other researchers to establish 25 species and provenance trials. These will provide valuable information for productivity estimates in the next rotation, allowing us to make better use of our valuable land resource.
Fertility and Nutrition Research
It is no surprise that fertilizing tree plantations improves their growth and performance, it is then a question of how much and of what kind improves the growth of the stand enough to justify the expense of applying fertilizers.
Forest Solutions has developed in-house fertilizer mixes to correct for known micro-nutrient deficiencies observed and identified in early plantation growth. These were developed by utilizing leaf and soil analyses and consultations with world authorities in plantation nutrition.
Continual work is needed in this area to improve our understanding of nutrient management in the unique and highly variable Hawaiian soils. While these projects are still in their infancy, our success with custom fertilizer blend portends of more research in this area.
In areas where rainfall is not sufficient to sustain tree establishment, irrigation is needed to enhance early survival and growth. Water conservation is important for these projects, which requires research into the method, quantity and timing of water use.
Forest Solutions has been experimenting with dryland forest drip irrigation for over a decade. During that time we have introduced or rather adapted re-usable water lines, pre-perforated lines, deep irrigation and short (3 weeks or less) flash irrigation techniques. The result has been a drastic reduction in water use per planted seedling and reduced project cost, as irrigation is an expensive technique.
Forestry research has enabled us to produce wood fiber at a lower cost and with less environmental consequences than ever before. Through applied research and data management, foresters are now able to predict the suitability of species in certain sites and even approximate their growth.
Equally important, through research we are able to plant species that had long been subject to devastating disease and restore native dryland forests. While the achievements have been impressive, more is needed to combat the effects of climate change and be ready to mitigate threats to the way we source our wood and protect our environment.
Forest Solutions is a strong believer in research-led practice of forestry. As one looks to successful forest production areas, be it the southeaster United States or southern Brazil, an emphasis in research has led the way. We have experience in a wide range of research projects; having installed, maintained and reported on trials. We also keep up on the latest advances with an eye to adapting these to the unique Hawaiian condition.
Our expertise includes Silviculture, Tree Improvement, Fertility and Nutrition, and Irrigation
The best forestry projects with improved seed stocks and good site conditions will still fail to perform without proper silvicultural methods. Silvicultural methods depend on site conditions, intended use for planted or managed forest and rotation length.
In most planted forests, over 60% of expenditures are for silvicultural activities occuring in the first few years of development. It is important therefore to carefully consider the need for each silvicultural practice in light of its ultimate outcome in saleable material or other benefit.
Simultaneously, it is research in silviculture that offers the greatest potential to improve profitability in the short term. While tree improvement projects can take years to bear fruit, an improved practice in silviculture can yield important benefits immediately.
Forest Solutions understands the importance of proper forest silviculture and the need for production oriented efficiency in forestry projects. In Hawaii, we have excelled at introducing techniques from around the world and adapting them to the conditions unique to the islands. We have also adapted local agricultural techniques into our forestry practices.