Chris Beadle and Vietnamese partners discussing Acacia plantation management.
Developing a sustainable plantation-based wood supply in Indonesia and Vietnam
Over the last two decades, CSIRO has worked with research agencies, wood-growing and wood-processing industries, and rural communities in Indonesia and Vietnam to develop a sustainable plantation resource based on tropical Acacia species.
22 February 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011
By building partnerships that draw on Australian and international expertise across research, extension and forest management, these projects provide an example of the opportunities for plantation growers in developing countries to contribute to reductions of global CO2 emissions whilst providing livelihoods for rural communities.
The research projects embrace:
- evaluation of Acacia genetic resources and tree breeding programs
- identification of the best species for different planting environments
- forest health and management of pest and diseases
- management to protect soil and nutrient resources
- plantation management for high-value wood products
- extension of research results to smallholder growers and studies of economic benefits
- training and postgraduate education.
Why Acacia plantations?
Species of the genus Acacia native to northern Australia and adjacent parts of Eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are important plantation species for tropical South-East Asian countries, with over two million hectares of plantations established in the region.
These projects provide opportunities for plantation growers in developing countries to contribute to reductions of global CO2 emissions whilst providing livelihoods for rural communities.
Acacia plantations can grow rapidly in the humid tropics, delivering commercial wood crops in as little as seven years, even on degraded and infertile soils where local tree species cannot be successfully established.
Acacia wood is suitable for paper production, and suitably-managed plantations can produce high quality timber for furniture manufacture.
Acacia plantations can provide a sustainable wood supply for these industries, whilst reducing harvesting pressure on native forests.
Vietnam's wood processing industries generate over A$2 billion annually, providing employment for many thousands of workers.
However, Vietnam has banned commercial harvesting from its native forests, and imports over three-quarters of the log requirements for its furniture industries. Acacia plantations in Vietnam have the potential to replace much of these imports.
Indonesia's wood processing and pulp and paper industries generate about A$9 billon annually.
Indonesia still has a very large native forest resource but is seeking a rapid transition to use plantation-grown wood to provide most of its industrial wood supplies.
Science for sustainability
Sustaining soil resources: rapid plantation growth and frequent harvests place heavy demands on soil resources, with soil disturbance during logging and plantation establishment, and nutrient removal in harvested logs. Long-term experiments are quantifying the benefits of management techniques to help reduce plantation fertiliser inputs, minimise off-site impacts and improve soil carbon storage and fertility over successive rotations.
Managing pests and pathogens: root rot diseases are a serious emerging problem reducing productivity of acacia plantations in some regions of Indonesia. Research focuses on understanding the biology of the disease and identifying biological control measures and strategies to reduce its impact on plantations.
Stand management for higher returns: thinning and pruning regimes can increase the yield of valuable sawlogs and provide higher economic returns to growers. Training thousands of smallholder growers to use these techniques is a significant challenge.
Breeding improved varieties: ongoing breeding research is developing varieties adapted to challenging climates and environments, and with improved wood properties for higher value.
Sharing lessons between countries: current work builds on a history of successful projects aimed at improving the performance of forestry plantations in tropical environments. Results and improved germplasm from breeding programs have been shared among countries. Pest and disease management research has involved collaboration between Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.
CSIRO receives funding support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and AusAID. Country governments have made strong inputs to the research.
The project partners include:
- the University of Tasmania
- FORDA Centre of Biotechnology and Forest Tree Improvement and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
- Forest Science Institute of Vietnam
- Forest industry companies and smallholder tree growers in Indonesia, Vietnam and other South-East Asian countries.
Learn more about CSIRO's Forestry research.