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Natural Resource Investigations

Study and characterisation of a plantation’s natural resources allow sustainable yield potentials to be determined in association with the range of site types encountered.  On any plantation, site conditions change continuously, albeit on different scales and over variable distances.  Layers of appropriate GIS spatial data on natural resources provide the basis for delineating uniform production units and implementing site specific forest management. 

Sites may be assessed at different scales of intensity viz. from strategic (1: 100 000 - 250 000) to operational (1: 10 000).  A reconnaissance or strategic site analysis is able to rapidly identify the range of sites encountered within a district, and provide information on the general afforestation potential and suitability in terms of species choice, growth risks, productivity class and complexities of production.  Such investigations typically combine a desk top study with a reconnaissance field survey.  Differing site units of approximately 500ha or larger each are identified and, while of relatively coarse uniformity, are well suited for benchmarking and scenario development purposes.  The units represent broad categories based on general data of climate, topography, lithology, soils and vegetation.

Regarding the actual implementation of afforestation and operational practices, reconnaissance findings would normally be followed by more detailed site studies and analyses of designated areas, providing more precise site index modelling and optimisation of site-specific forestry management operations.  Site factors for in-depth investigation include commercial tree growth, climate, lithology, soils, topography and natural vegetation.  Following intensive site investigations, individual site units with relatively uniform properties are able to be delineated, from approximately 5 to 50ha in extent.  Such studies are able to provide particular estimates of tree growth potential and identify key site factors for classifying and meaningfully delineating local sites expressly for optimum stand management purposes.  These factors may also be used to assess the afforestation potential of adjacent holdings, as well as having application for land evaluation on similar sites within the greater region.