Scion Team Studying Long-Term Forest Productivity

Wednesday 23 Jun 2021

Sustaining forest productivity: A 30-year study - A 30-year experimental monitoring of forest ecosystem nutrient levels and forest productivity over a complete rotation has been completed by Scion researchers. The results show that soil nutrient levels and forest productivity can be maintained with site- specific management – specifically through the retention of forest harvest residues and the forest floor at low-fertility sites.

Around 15 percent of New Zealand’s planted radiata pine forests are now in their third or fourth rotation. A consistent supply of nutrients is essential to ensure the long-term productivity, health and sustainability of these forests. This is not a new issue, with concern being raised more than 40 years ago.

Effects of removing harvesting residues - Harvesting a forest includes removing the main stem but can also include removal of harvest residues (slash) and even the forest floor, a scenario which is becoming increasingly more plausible as biomass for bioenergy and biofuels are emerging as ways to diminish our reliance on fossil fuels. Understanding the consequences of these practices from one rotation to the next is necessary to ensure our forests stay productive into the future.

New Zealand is part of a global network of “Long Term Site Productivity” trials investigating the sustainability of intensive forest management harvesting practices and the pressures placed on soil resources. The first whole-of- rotation results have now been reported for forests around New Zealand.

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Source: Scion

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