Associate Professor David Lee

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Associate Professor David Lee


Teaching areas

  • Forests, Carbon and Climate

Research areas

  • improvement of tropical and subtropical hardwood tree species
  • plant reproductive biology and breeding systems
  • Eucalyptus and Corymbia genetics
  • gene flow from plantations to native forests
  • growing trees for carbon sequestration, timber and poles
  • tree adaptation and optimal matching of tree species to environments
  • selection of myrtle rust (eucalypt rust) resistant trees for plantations and environmental plantings


Associate Professor David Lee leads the Hardwood Tree Improvement Focus within the Horticulture and Forestry Science group of Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). David’s position is a fully funded by DAFF and his time is split between responsibilities on campus and at DAFF’s Gympie research station. David’s tree improvement and taxa site matching research has resulted in a change in the hardwood tree varieties grown and the regions being developed for hardwood plantations in Queensland.

David leads several large projects for DAFF on Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Khaya, Grevillea and Acacia tree improvement attracting over A$10 million in research funding since 2000. He has extensive collaborative links with the plantation industry, other researched providers, the university sector and the international plantation forestry sector.

David is a member of both the Forest Industries Research Centre and the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Research grants

 Project name Investigators  Funding body  Year  Focus 
Dryland forestry in New Caledonia   Government of the Southern Province of New Caledonia   This project involves selecting the most appropriate species to establish hardwood plantations on the west coast of New Caledonia in the 600>MAR
Forest adaptation and sequestration alliance Associate Professor David Lee and researchers from QLD DAFF and CSIRO Forest Industries Climate Change Research Fund via the Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry   Selection and documenting the carbon sequestration rates of fast growing trees in marginal agricultural lands of north eastern Australia. The project is using growth and survival data from 38 large 10-year-old field trials along with cutting edge technologies to determine adaptability, growth, health status and carbon sequestration capacity of trees in the tropics and subtropics. Industry partners for the project are Elders Forestry Pty Ltd and Forestry Plantations Queensland.
Smart Forests Alliance Queensland Professor Helen Wallace, Associate Professor David Lee, Dr Stephen Trueman, Associate Professor Peter Waterman, Dr Christian Jones and researchers from QLD DAFF, CSIRO and RDPIFA (Northern Territory) Smart State Innovation Fund – National and International Research Alliances Program. 2009–2011 The Smart Forests Alliance is a Queensland Government initiative to speed up production of fast-growing hardwood trees for forest plantations and carbon sequestration. The main focus is development of high-value species of Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Khaya for plantation development. Industry partners for the project are Integrated Tree Cropping Ltd and Forest Enterprises Australia Ltd.
Characterising wood properties for deployment of elite subtropical and tropical hardwoods Dr Stephen Trueman, Associate Professor David Lee, Professor Helen Wallace and researchers from QLD DAFF and CSIRO Plantation Hardwoods Research Fund 2009– 2011

This project is characterising the timber quality of Eucalyptus and Corymbia species in replicated field trials, and developing propagation methods to release the best tree varieties to the hardwood plantation industry. Project partners are the University of the Sunshine Coast, CSIRO, QLD DAFF, Integrated Tree Cropping Ltd, Forestry Plantations Queensland and Forest Enterprises Australia Ltd.

Genetic variation of the vulnerable Eucalyptus argophloia, and its development for sustainable hardwood forestry in low rainfall areas Professor Helen Wallace, Dr Rhonda Stokoe, Associate Professor David Lee and researchers from QLD DAFF Australian Research Council 2005–2009 This species is under threat due to land clearing, with only 1000 trees remain in the wild. We are examining the biodiversity of this venerable species of eucalypt, which has great promise for plantation timber in low rainfall areas of Northern Australia. We are also breeding superior varieties for plantation forestry designed to cope with climate change, low rainfall and salinity and examining the breeding system of the species.
Wood quality improvement for spotted gum Professor Robert Henry and Dr Merv Shepherd (Southern Cross University), and Associate Professor David Lee and researchers from QLD DAFF Australian Research Council 2005–2007 We examined the potential to use Association Genetics (candidate genes) as a tool to screen and select Corymbia species and hybrids for desirable wood quality and rooting traits and evaluated the genetic diversity and structuring of natural spotted gum populations using microsatellite and morphological markers.

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