Forest Industries Research Centre Honours projects

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Forest Industries Research Centre Honours projects

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The Forest Industries Research Centre (FIRC) is focused on issues as they relate to the forestry value chain to create economic and environmental sustainability of forest industries.

Research concentrates on tropical and sub-tropical forestry and the processing of novel commercial species to support a strong value-added processing sector.

Supporting this is the Australian Forest Operations Research Alliance (AFORA), established by USC to continue the collaborative forest supply chain research established by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Forestry.

For more information, contact Professor Mark Brown, Director, FIRC

Current research projects

Title

 Primary supervisor

This project will provide guidelines for the implementation of  moisture content management program to optimise wood and biomass supply chains.

It includes a quantification of the economic and financial impact of drying logs and biomass products along the supply chain (storage, chipping, harvesting and transport), as well as the logistics and product quality implications (e.g. pulp yield, fungi attack, ash content, and organic matter losses). For that purpose, at least one supply chains will be investigated including chips and logs transport in short rotation plantations. These results will be combined with the results of previous AFORA drying trials and optimisation decision support tool to provide the forest industry with business and commercial guidelines to aid supply chain managers in managing forest operations based on MC data.

Dr Mauricio Acuna

Email: macuna@usc.edu.au

Tel: 0448 372 340

The five-spined bark beetle Ips grandicollis is a secondary pest of pine plantations in Australia.

While this beetle seldom causes significant tree mortality, it can impact on plantation profitability by introducing blue stain fungi into attacked standing trees (particularly following fire) and in logs after harvesting operations,  lowering the value of wood products. More recently it has also been implicated in reducing the effectiveness of trap trees established in plantations as part of  biological control programs for Sirex woodwasp.

A national biological control program was initiated for I. grandicollis during the 1980's, which resulted in the establishment of two parasitoid wasps, Roptrocerus xylophagorum and Dendrosoter sulcatus. Both these parasitoidsare present in pine plantations in South East Queensland. However, we do not currently know how effective these wasps are in reducing beetle populations. This project aims to gather baseline information on the parasitism rates of these two wasps by sampling infested bark from logs felled as part of harvesting operations, from sentinel logs, and by rearing out beetles and wasps from infested logs . The outcomes will guide future research into methods by which parasitism rates may be enhanced to reduce the impact of the bark beetle on wood quality and in reducing interference in the Sirex biological control program.

Dr Simon Lawson

Email: slawson@usc.edu.au

Tel: +61 7 3255 4380

FIRC has observed a range of potential safety and productivity challenges in Australian forestry regarding the management of heavy vehicle mass and driver fatigue.

This project will leverage safety and productivity models with smart phone and mobile apps for forestry workers to self-manage OH&S risk factors. The research will explore the relationship between the management of OH&S risks, productivity gains and safety outcomes and determine mechanisms to mitigate risk factors within productivity constraints – this is likely to result in insights into development of sustainable safety solutions for forestry.

Dr Mohammad R. Ghaffariyan

Email: mghaffar@usc.edu.au

Tel: +61 7 5456 5447

Predictive productivity models for forestry harvesting machines have been developed by FIRC.

This project will leverage the models using smart phones and mobile apps to make them available to forestry contractors and harvesting planners for predicting productivity of machines in Queensland forestry operations. The research will identify, improve, implement and evaluate the human, experiential, workflow, organisational and environmental factors, which are likely to achieve a sustainable solution and much greater willingness to support usage of the app-based models in workplaces from both employers and employees.

Dr Mohammad R. Ghaffariyan

Email: mghaffar@usc.edu.au

Tel: +61 7 5456 5447

The annual woody waste in Sunshine Coast is more than 24,000 t which is a significant source of bioenergy production.

To reduce the woody waste volumes in sustainable way, this project will assess the economic, environmental and social benefits of converting woody waste into bioenergy through modeling the application of small-scale heating plants in Sunshine Coast area. The aspects such as reduction of emissions and increasing regional employment in the area will be investigated.

Dr Mohammad R. Ghaffariyan

Email: mghaffar@usc.edu.au

Tel: +61 7 5456 5447

Forest Industry Research Centre has collected information on the level of timber harvesting residues in different areas from 2010-2012 but little information is known in Queensland forests and plantations.

This project will evaluate the quantity and quality of harvesting residues in pine and Eucalypt plantations in different forestry practices. The potential of residues for bioenergy usage and their impact on soil and site sustainability will be discovered in this project.

Dr Mohammad R. Ghaffariyan

Email: mghaffar@usc.edu.au

Tel: +61 7 5456 5447

Feeding efficiency of the defoliating eucalypt beetle Paropsis atomaria Eucalypts produce an array of defence compounds in the leaves, including a high concentration of terpenoids, to prevent herbivory. P. atomaria is a plantation pest with a huge host range among the eucalypts. This project will use chemical analyses of leaves and beetle frass to determine how the beetle deals with theses toxins, and how their strategies vary with different host species.

Helen Nahrung

Email: hnahrung@usc.edu.au

Tel: 0421 514 393

Red cedar (Toona ciliata) is a high value timber species and an iconic tree in Australia’s history and culture. Commercial plantations of this and related species worldwide have been impossible due to a single insect, the cedar shoot borer (Hypsipyla robusta).

Larval feeding causes shoot death resulting in a stunted multi-branched tree of greatly reduced value. Shoot borers are difficult to control by traditional methods: novel approaches are clearly required in to manage this pest.The remarkable ability of moths to locate isolated and distant host trees suggests that long distance chemoreception is important. Two aspects of the biology of Hypsipyla robusta indicate ways to explore elements of chemoreception more closely.
  • Hypsipyla damage is thought to be less common on trees grown in the shade.
  • Trees or shoots with existing damage are more attractive to both ovipositing adults and feeding larvae.
By exploring these plant-insect interactions it may be possible to use chemical cues to manipulate insect behaviour.

Helen Nahrung

Email: hnahrung@usc.edu.au

Tel: 0421 514 393

Understanding chemical communication between insects is key to understanding and managing populations worldwide.

The Cerambycidae are a charismatic and diverse family of beetles that are important pests of trees and timber. Their pheromones have been well-studied and show a surprising chemical conservatism, making them an ideal model system. This project will focus on the attractiveness of "generic" pheromones to native and pest species in the field, the chemistry of their pheromones and the potential to use them to manage pest populations.

Andrew Hayes

Email: hnahrung@usc.edu.au

Tel: 0421 514 393

Northern sandalwood (Santalum lanceolatum) was over harvested on the Cape York Peninsula during the period from 1860 to 1940 and now occurs in restricted patches in the region.

These isolated sandalwood patches have poor seed production and herbivory and fire are a major threats. This project seeks to examine the genetic diversity of these patches to help with conservation of the species.

Associate Professor David Lee

Email: dlee@usc.edu.au

Tel: 0409 649 262

Myrtle rust (a fungal disease of Myrtaceous species) was first detected in Australia in 2010.

Since its arrival it has spread down to Victoria and into Cape York Peninsula. We are investigating the impact of this disease on key eucalypt, paperbark and lemon myrtle species.

Associate Professor David Lee

Email: dlee@usc.edu.au

Tel: 0409 649 262

Growth and wood samples have been collected from a large Gympie messmate family trial.

The data and wood samples provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate the impact of a species ecotype, provenance and family on the growth and wood properties of an internationally important plantation species.

Associate Professor David Lee

Email: dlee@usc.edu.au

Tel: 0409 649 262

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