Forestry PhD graduates Michelle Balasso and Vilius Gendvilas obtained their PhD degrees from the University of Tasmania in December 2021, after being supported by Forico and other partners in their studies at the ARC Training Centre for Forest Value.
The Centre for Forest Value is an initiative funded through the Australian Research Council to provide evidence-based solutions for industry in the forest and wood products sector. As Tasmania’s largest private forest and land asset manager, Forico was an industry partner of the Centre.
“It’s important to build research capability for the forest industry and we are delighted that Dr Balasso and Dr Gendvilas have successfully completed their studies, working closely with us on projects of direct relevance in the sector,” said Dr Andrew Jacobs, Chief Technology Officer at Forico.
Dr Balasso’s thesis examined the assessment of wood quality in standing trees, and segregation of harvested wood for different end-products use to extract the maximum value from the hardwood resource. Using non-destructive testing techniques which employed acoustic wave velocity, she developed a practical segregation and sorting tool for use at all stages of the supply chain, and proposed methods to reliably sort and grade timber boards. She also studied the modification of timber boards using thermo and hydro-mechanical treatments, densifying them to increase the structural properties for potential use in the timber industry, for high-quality applications.
Dr Gendvilas investigated various aspects of silviculture of the planted Eucalyptus nitens resource, particularly the causes and effects of tree dominance, and the effects of thinning on the properties of trees that remain standing. He will now continue his studies for the sector as a Research Fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Forest Research Institute.
Dr Balasso has accepted a role as Forest Project Officer with Forico and divides her time between the company’s headquarters in Launceston, its plantation forests in the north and northwest, and her home office in Hobart.
“My project spanned the supply chain, from the forest down to timber products for construction,” said Dr Balasso. “I tried to connect the parts of the productive chain across very different stakeholders, because a lot of knowledge is stuck in silos; forest growers know a lot about the forests and their resource, but they don’t necessarily understand what the log processors want from their logs; similarly, log processors don’t necessarily understand
what designers or architects require, or what products the planted resource could potentially deliver.”
“These were unique PhD scholarships,” said Dr Jacobs, who supervised Dr Balasso and Dr Gendvilas’ work. ‘Both students spent time in our offices and working with our foresters on issues of relevance to Forico and the wider industry. They have conducted highly relevant research which will positively impact our business.”
Captions for attached images:
Dr Balasso and Dr Gendvilas at their graduation
Dr Balasso at a Forico plantation
Dr Andrew Jacobs, Chief Technology Officer, Forico
T: 03 6335 5227 M: 0408 263 651