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Understanding wood formation: gains to commercial forestry through tree-ring research

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Tree-ring research, in its varied manifestations, has made many contributions to our understanding of how trees grow and respond to a changing world. Environmental factors can vary from periodic and/or predictable changes in temperature, precipitation and anthropogenic stress factors, to occasional ‘one-off’ events like fire, landslides or storms. The robustness of trees to change is indicated by their longevity. A major advantage of this longevity is that the pattern of response to change is recorded in their wood structure.

The variation in wood properties over time is a net result of a complex web of interactions. This pattern of variation is a function of genotype x environment interactions on the whole tree as they impact on the factors controlling cambial growth. A combination of recent advances in measurement technology, cambial development and process modeling offers strong possibilities for making major advances in the understanding of wood formation. This understanding is important to both dendrochronology/dendroecology and commercial forestry. This paper examines some of the recent advances in technology and describes how they have been used to bridge the gap between these two disciplines, addressing areas of interest to both.

Changes to the way research is being funded means that greater attention must be paid to the benefits obtained from it. To ensure that research opportunities are captured, there is a need to strengthen links between traditional tree-ring research and research in commercial forestry. Tree-ring research has a major contribution to make to both areas. Understanding the physiology of wood formation will lead to an improvement in the efficiency of our timber production industries and to a better interpretation of the tree-ring record.
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Keywords: SilviScan; Wood formation; cambium; dendrometers; process modelling; stem growth; tree rings; wood properties

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, Hobart, Tasmania, AustraliaUniversity of Agricultural Sciences, Vienna, AustriaCSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: 2002-08-01

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