Tree rust research to feature at Gympie forum

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Tree rust research to feature at Gympie forum


15 August 2012

15 August 2012

New academic research into a destructive leaf fungus will be presented to Gympie’s timber industry at the inaugural Gympie First Forum lunch on Friday 17 August.

University of the Sunshine Coast Associate Professor David Lee, who is investigating tree species resistant to the fungus “myrtle rust”, said his findings could help save at-risk forestry plantations and ecosystems in the future.

“Myrtle rust arrived in Australia in 2010 and is potentially devastating to the whole ecology of Australia,” he said.

“We are currently investigating which tree species show resistance to the disease, and at this stage, some Spotted Gums and Gympie Messmate varieties are showing good levels of resistance.

“Based on this, we will be developing seed orchards of that material, and resistant seed should be available to the industry in about three years.”

Associate Professor Lee said his research was built on earlier research that tested trees for growth potential, form and wood properties.

He will be joined at the forum by USC’s Professor of Forestry Operations Mark Brown who will discuss the potential local impacts of his research into forestry harvesting and operations.

“Our work focuses largely on the interaction of machinery and the forest, so depending on tree size, slope and terrain conditions, different harvesting systems will perform better in different conditions,” Professor Brown said.

“One of those systems might be more productive and cost-effective because it is better at extracting products using less equipment.”

USC’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Roland De Marco said the forum in Gympie would provide a great opportunity for the University’s forestry experts to outline their research projects.

“USC has an established program of research in forest sciences, which is underpinned by productive partnerships with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the CSIRO,” he said.

“Through a USC-DAFF-CSIRO research centre in forestry entailing everything in the forest supply chain — from germ plasms to forest plantations to timber engineering — USC will play a leading role in the establishment of a critical mass of integrated research expertise in forestry for both Queensland and Australia.”

— Michelle Widdicombe

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