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CLUSTER

A cluster-based approach for identifying farm forest resources to maximise potential markets.

This research project co-funded by COFORD and Teagasc provides a framework for quantifying the wood resources from farm forests in order to maximise potential markets. The study utilises a Geographic Information System (GIS) in order to provide information about the location of forest plantations.

This is achieved by using a cluster based approach for locating areas with large concentrations of private forest cover that are approaching first thinning. Geographic Information System (GIS) are used in order to provide information about the location of forest plantations. In order to maximise the area covered by the survey cluster analysis is employed to identify areas with large concentrations of private forest cover that are approaching first thinning. A number of target clusters are identified based on the amount of forest and the proximity to a market place.

In addition, remote sensing techniques are employed, a combination of aerial photography and satellite imagery are examined to provide information about the current state of plantations within clusters. Information is derived from the latest ortho-photography as well as from Quick Bird TM and IKONOS TM satellite imagery. Using these techniques information on access, productive area, roading and thin status are captured; furthermore data on forest stand parameters such as height, and crown assessment are also identified.

In the second phase, all plantations within a cluster that are approaching first thinning stage are visited in the field where an assessment of timber quality and volume is performed in each stand. The field survey captures forest growth parameters such as area of stand, top height, basal area and stocking.

Data collected in the field will be compiled into a field database and the volume of each stand are computed using the COFORD Dynamic Yield Model “Growfor” (COFORD, 2007). These models are used to generate forecasts of volume production by projecting the growth of stands forward to a reference age.

Information on volume, thinning cycle, thinning yield, thinning year and windthrow risk for each stand in the cluster will be made available in a database and will be used as the main tool for further development work or in the identification of suitable locations for new market opportunities.

Relevant publications:

For further information, contact Niall Farrelly, Forestry Researcher, Teagasc