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Forecasting the dynamic response of timber quality to management and environmental change: An integrated approach

There is a recognised need within the European forest industry for models forecasting the quality of timber, given that the wood product industries are reliant on a regular supply of wood of uniform properties. This proposal aims to improve understanding by developing an integrated modelling framework. The framework will enable forest managers, the timber industry and policy makers to decide whether forest management should be principally for production, conservation or amenity outputs. The system will also predict and quantify reversible and irreversible energy fluxes to and from the forest, including those due to fossil fuel consumption. Such a forecasting system must account for the reshaping of European forestry through policies aimed at the optimisation of sustainable management, the provision of renewable resources and the protection of the global and local environment, in particular the role of forestry in the carbon cycle. Thus, a fully integrated approach to pre- and post-production activities is required to develop a tool suitable for use by both the timber industry and national/governmental policy decision-makers.

The overall objective of MEFYQUE is to increase understanding of the relationships between site conditions and growth, yield and timber quality for current and future scenarios of atmospheric change. This objective will be achieved by developing a prototype modelling system operating at an appropriate forestry management scale (the forest stand) to forecast timber growth, yield, quality and marketability suitable for application in the European Union. It will assist forest managers, the timber industry and policy makers to decide whether management of forests should be primarily for production, conservation or amenity outputs, within the context of multi-purpose forest management.
In order to achieve this overall objective, the project has the following specific objectives:
1) to increase understanding of the relationship between tree growth, timber quality, site conditions and stand management using a network of traditional mensuration sample plots and supplementary information on structure, quality, environment and physiology
2) to increase understanding of the influence of climate and atmospheric composition (climate change) on timber quality through manipulative
experiments and the analysis of wood properties for material grown under ambient and enhanced CO² concentrations. This will be obtained through a combination of the analysis of existing plant material from previous experiments and new material from specific manipulative experiments
3) to construct and validate a coupled empirical-process model of timber growth, yield, quality and carbon sequestration including non-harvestable fractions, operating at the stand scale. This will be achieved using data collected under objectives 1 and 2, and additional validation being provided by flux experiments at monitored sites. This model will be based on widely accepted functions in an innovative modular structure
4) to simulate the impacts of future scenarios of atmospheric composition (climate change) on timber growth, yield and carbon sequestration at different spatial scales (stand and regional). The most up-to-date Global Climate Model outputs and predictions of atmospheric composition change will be used as drivers for the model developed under objective 3
5) to simulate and quantify the impact of forest management on timber growth, yield and quality allowing the optimisation of economic return and/or carbon sequestration and energy cost benefits through sustainable practices of production
6) to simulate and quantify the impact of forest management on the industrial energy, production and forestry as an important land use system.

Progress to Date
1) Partially completed data collection programme across a large range of data types from the project experimental sites.
2) Development of project database containing data collected from project experimental sites.
3) Development and partial validation of a stand scale model simulating the growth of key parameters determining timber quality.
4. Development of a 3D model reconstructing log shape from scanning data integrated with a module optimising log processing and cutting cycles.
5. Two carbon and energy bookkeeping models have been developed that quantify the fossil fuel energy inputs and associated CO² emissions of individual forest operations and timber conversion procedures.

The following key results have been completed:
1) Standardised methodology for site characteristics, physiological, eco-physiological and mensurational data for observed forest stands.
2) Standardised methodology for timber quality assessment for forest stands, applicable across the EU.
3) Standardised methodologies for determining selected anatomical and biochemical wood properties, and wood physico-mechanical properties.
4) Protocol for integration of sub-modules.
5) A review of forestry working practices, wood processing methods and implicit fossil energy inputs in Finland and the UK.
6) Timber growth and quality assessments on forest stands located across the EU.
7) New mechanistic stand-scale timber growth and quality model.
8) New model for analysing 3D log scans and simulating optimised cutting cycles.
9) Integration of sub-modules and with a project database.
10) Two computer-based models of fossil energy and carbon-based balances available as source code, or executable user-friendly interface.


Scientist responsible for the project

Alice Holt Lodge, Wrecclesham
GU10 4LH Farnham
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 1420 526207
Fax: +44 1420 23450


Project ID QLRT-2000-00345
Organisation The Forestry Commission Research Agency
Area 5.3.1
Start date 01 July 2001
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 2 131 087 €
Total EC contribution   1 506 541 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project

The partners

  • Universiteit Gent - Faculteit van de Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen, Belgium - BE
  • Building Research Establishment Ltd - Centre for Timber Technology and Construction, United Kingdom (The) - GB

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