Eucalyptus trees the future for Tiwi Islands forestry

As the Traditional Owners of the Tiwi Islands gear up for their first woodchip harvest of Acacia mangium trees, there are nearby trials showing what the future of Tiwi forestry will look like. A variety of eucalyptus trees are showing significant growing advantages to the acacias that currently dot the landscape of Melville Island.

Managing director of Plantation Management Partners, Glen Samsa, said the eucalypt trials covered 150 hectares and were established in conjunction with the CSIRO. He said the Acacia mangium plantations would soon be harvested and would likely be replaced by eucalypts, subject to an investment decision.

Eucalypts have been trialled on the Tiwi Islands since the 1980s, but the latest trial consists of Eucalypt pellita (red mahogany), Eucalypt urophylla (Timor mountain gum) and Eucalypt brassiana (Cape York red gum) and hybrids thereof.

"There's an expectation that with these trees, we could achieve in terms of volume growth, about 10% to 15% over what Acacia mangium could do on these sites," Mr Samsa said.

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Photo: Matt Brann