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    ABSTRACT

New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2011) 56(1): 3–11
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Refereed article
Diameter growth rates of beech (Nothofagus) trees around New Zealand

Sarah J. Richardson* 1, Jennifer M. Hurst 2, Tomás A. Easdale 3, Susan K. Wiser 4, Alan D. Griffiths 5 and Rob B. Allen 6

1 Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
2 Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
3 Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
4 Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
5 School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, New Zealand Sustainable Programmes, MAF, Sir William Pickering Drive, Christchurch, New Zealand
6 Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
*Corresponding author.

Abstract: Beech (Nothofagus) accounts for a large proportion of the privately owned indigenous forest in New Zealand that is available for timber production. In order to develop management plans for those beech forests there is a need to refine our knowledge on tree growth rates and to take account of tree size, local competition and regional differences. In this article, we use a large dataset on tree growth in unmanaged forests throughout New Zealand to develop size-specific growth models for the four beech species. In particular, we model both normal (“average”) and above-average (“rapid”) diameter growth rates. We found that average tree diameter growth rates were typically between 1 and 3 mm/yr and rapid tree diameter growth rates ranged between 1 and 5 mm/yr. For stems under 500 mm diameter at breast height, hard and red beech typically grew faster than black-mountain and silver beech. However, for larger trees, the fastest rates were found in black-mountain beech in Southland and silver beech in Nelson-Marlborough. Growth rates of >= 10 mm/yr were extremely rare in our dataset and accounted for <0.2% of all trees (27 out of 17,781 trees). Data from thinning trials show that beech trees can achieve growth rates in excess of 6 mm/yr, making a compelling case for further stand thinning to enhance the generally slow growth rates of beech in unmanaged forests.

Keywords: Nothofagus; beech; sustainable yield; individual growth model; NVS Databank; permanent sample plots; timber production; size-specific growth rates; sustainable management


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