Dorrigo Nursery

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The One Hectare Alternative

The Flexibility of Smaller Plantings
Factors to Consider in Establishing Small Woodlots

High Value, Low Volume
Potential farm foresters are often put off by the commonly held opinion that a woodlot needs to be in excess of 15 hectares for it to be economicaly viable.
This is unfortunate because, while this may be true for the industrial producer, it is not necessarily true for the small landholder interested in growing trees.
Instead, due to the scale, a smaller woodlot can be intensively managed by the landholder for high value wood production with the added advantage of having lower establishment and maintenance costs in the beginning.

To successfully compete in the 'industrial' timber market you do need to devote large areas of land to growing trees.
But not having the land resource available to grow industrially does not necessarily preclude you from becoming a commercial tree grower at all, it merely changes its emphasis.

This emphasis will shift from high volume, low value production to low volume, high value production.
That is, you will be growing trees in smaller areas that will be intensively managed for high value clearwood production.

Because this sort of management is not often carried out in larger plantations, due to its intensive nature, the product born of silvicultural management will immediately be targeting a different market.
Generally this market will be a specialty one, such as cabinet or furniture timbers, that will offer higher royalties on your timber.

The 'One Hectare Alternative' does not necessarily suggest that the landholder stops with 1 hectare, but rather that small regular plantings are used to allow for effective silvicutural management.
New plantings can then be established as resources allow (preferably each year) with the aim of establishing a sustainable on farm forest resource which, after 30-40 years, can be harvested in perpetuity.

The Flexibility of Smaller Plantings
'The One Hectare Alternative' does not lock growers into the square woodlot in the corner syndrome, it allows for a flexible approach that views trees as a land management tool used to suit any individual situation.
Plantings models can be designed to work in with the whole farming system, incorporating a number of values from timber production to erosion control and shade and shelter for stock.
These models then provide landholders with choices at a later date, rather than being restricted by one land use for a particular planting.

Factors to Consider in Establishing Small Woodlots
The principles for plantation establisment become even more important in the small woodlot because of its intensive nature and the smaller margins for mistakes.
Species Selection
Quality Seedlings
Ground Preparation
Weed Control
Quality Planting
Form and Bole Pruning
Species Selection:

Choose species in relation to local markets and their ability to survive and grow well in your farm environment.
This may require doing smaller trial plantings to ascertain appropriate species

Quality Seedlings:

The characteristics of a parent tree are largely passed on to the seed and then the seedling.
Be sure to source trees from a good provenance, selected for their timber producing qualities.
Also make sure the seedlings are not J-rooted (see photo) or rootbound as this will affect the seedling later in its life.

Ground Preparation:

The primary objective of this is to allow for the easy penetration of air, water and roots into the soil.
Sites should be ripped as deeply as possible on the contour and the planting rows then cultivated to prepare the bed for the seedlings.


Planting densities can be increased in a smaller planting to allow you a greater selection at the time of thinning, leaving you with an optimum final crop of trees.
Planting at 3m X 3m will give you a total of 1100 trees/ha, 3m X 4m will give you 800 trees trees/ha.

Weed Control:

Is essential for good growth rates. The seedlings should be planted into a weed free environment and kept that way for their first two years.
This can be achieved chemically or manually as long as an area 1m in diameter is kept weed free around each tree.

Quality Planting:

Plant trees into moist ground, firmly, with root plug 20- 40mm below the surface.


For best results a tree should be fertilized 4 weeks after planting with 50g of ferilizer in the ground.
Generally, fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorous are recommended, but different soils have different requirements and this must be considered in your choice.

Form and Bole Pruning:

A properly pruned tree produces a log with a small core of knotty timber where the prune stubs are.
This will be surrounded by a wider sheath of clearwood or knot free timber, as shown in the diagram.
Form pruning is carried out in the early years to ensure that the tree develops with the correct shape, for example, double leaders may be removed.
Bole pruning is the removal of branches to control the development of knots.
As shown in the diagram, any branches within the aimed clearwood zone will leave stubs which devalue the final log.
Written by Ernie Chiswell & Jo Parker

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Seed Collection
Site Assessment for Remnant Vegetation
Establishing Farm Forestry Plantations
Design and Establishment of Shelterbelts

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The Advantage
of the One Hectare

  • Lower Annual Monetary Imputs
  • Improve Tree Maintenance
  • Higher Quality Trees due to Greater Care
  • This then Equates to Faster Growth & Higher Returns
  • Provision of Income Spread Over Time

    The One Hectare Alternative Can Be:

  • A Windbreak
  • Shade and Shelter for Stock
  • Gully Restoration
  • A Wildlife Corridor or Refuge
  • Land Rehabilitation
  • Commercial Timber Production

  • Rainforest/ Shrubs/ Grass Eucalyptus species Garden herbs/ Bush tucker Plastic sleeves/ Milk cartons/ Stakes/ Fertilizer The One Hectare Alternative