The next batch ‘potted-up’ in the shadehouse prior to planting for Phase Two - expansion to full Continuous Canopy Forestry operations at Lothlorien
Seed & Seedlings – In order to assist others with adoption of the model, Rockwood Ventures will develop its nursery operations and seed orchard to supply native and exotic seed and seedlings surplus to our requirements with local provenance for the Far North Queensland Wet Tropics region.
sustaining an old-growth forest framework through long planting–harvesting cycles.
maintaining biodiversity through multiple species; and
replacing what is harvested;
harvesting no single area of more than two tree-heights in length and breadth;
“...The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that outlasts it...”

William James

Phase Two – In Feb 2010 we commenced reforestation operations on our new permanent location ‘Lothlorien’ near Topaz. This 101 acre property, with rich volcanic soils and ~5 metres of annual rainfall, is ideal for rainforest habitat reconstruction. The land was completely cleared back in the 1950's as part of the Government's scheme to open up the Mabi rainforest for agriculture. The Government of the day granted land parcels to veterans conditional on clear-felling and burning a 10 acre-per-annum quota of rainforest. Lothlorien is situated 700m above sea-level at the edge of the Tablelands. It's deep valleys and permanent water provide a modicum of drought, frost and cyclone protection against the predicted ravages of anthropogenic climate change. By the end of 2010 we had 825 trees planted and are tracking well to meet our 1000 trees-a-year target.
The Imperative
Reforestation Timeline
A young Kauri (Agathis robusta) in the trial planting at Platypus Bend Eco Retreat
Isolated remnant rainforest along the Johnstone River in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. This is one of many small (less than 10 Ha) patches on the Atherton Tablelands where the native flora and fauna are cut off by vast, open and often under-utilised farmland
Other Initiatives
When the first trees begin to mature (around 2025), they will be selectively harvested and replaced at 2% per annum. This cycle will span 40 years for most species. However, concurrent longer cycles will be established (up to 500 years) for selected 'pillars of the rainforest' that will provide an enduring old growth forest framework for the ecosystem. Importantly, this regime will be stipulated in a covenant that encumbers the title in order to bind all future owners (stewards) of the Company / Property.
In order to achieve economically-viable habitat reconstruction, Rockwood Ventures advocates – and is initiating – a Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) approach [2] to its afforestation / reforestation efforts. Unlike clear-fell forestry methods, this approach will provide revenue while sustaining a rainforest ecosystem by:
Rockwood Ventures is an Australian afforestation / reforestation company endeavouring to demonstrate habitat reconstruction and carbon sequestration as a sustainable commercial enterprise. The Company is establishing and maintaining a rainforest habitat 'forest sink' in Far North Queensland's Wet Tropics World Heritage Area [1], raising commercially extinct or threatened native and exotic timber species from seed, and planting them on previously cleared agricultural land. Importantly, Rockwood Ventures recognizes that widespread adoption is required to achieve significant impact with regard to habitat reconstruction and carbon sequestration. Therefore the Company’s goal is to develop a simple, economically self-sustaining forestry model that can be widely implemented by others, thereby establishing a broad-based carbon sequestration and reforestation initiative across the embattled wet tropics region and beyond.
Continuous Cover Forestry: Environmentally Sound, Economically Self-Sustaining
[1] – Wet Tropics Management Authority. (2009). Welcome to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, North Queensland. www.wettropics.gov.au
[2] – UK Forestry Commission (2009). Continuous Cover Forestry. www.forestresearch.gov.uk/PDF/fcin29.pdf/$FILE/fcin29.pdf
[3] – Bardgett, R. D. (2008). The Biology of Soil: A community and ecosystem approach. Oxford University Press Inc, New York
[4] – Schepers, J.S. and Lynch J.M. (2007). Soils and Waste Management: a Challenge to Climate Change. Forestry and Climate Change.        Cromwell Press, Trowbridge. 253pp.
[5] – Australian National University SRES. (2009). Solar Kiln Drying of Timber. http://sres-associated.anu.edu.au/fpt/drying/solar.html
[6] – Hall, P., Gigler, J.K. and Sims, R.E.H. (2001). Delivery systems of forest arisings for energy production in New Zealand. Biomass and Bioenergy 21,        pp391–399.
[7] – Mathews, R.W., Robertson, K., Marland, G. and Marland, E. (2007). Carbon in Wood Products and Product Substitution. Forestry and Climate Change, 91-104
[8] – Aust. Gov. Dpt. Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. (2009). National Reserve System. www.environment.gov.au/parks/nrs/index.html
Forest sinks are a crucial weapon for combating climate change by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. If established and maintained correctly, they also help rebuild the embattled natural forest ecosystems critical for the biodiversity and environmental health of regions. Ultimately they help to combat climate change whilst simultaneously slowing the present alarming rates of species extinction that are directly attributable to human-induced habitat loss — habitat essential to buffer many species against the inevitable effects of climate change.
The juggernaut of human-accelerated global warming is rapidly emerging as the greatest threat to mankind and many other species that share our planet. The global community is slowly developing and implementing legislative measures to address the looming catastrophe, although it will be a long time before these measures are adopted on an appropriate scale. Ultimately, it seems inevitable that the massive greenhouse gas-emitting lifestyles and practices of our species will change dramatically—whether by choice or not—in order to stabilize the biosphere. The inertia of natural planetary systems is such that it is the proactive measures we implement today that provide the greatest hope for a tolerable future... Tomorrow it may be too late.
Market Development – In order to prime the ‘economic enabler’ for this habitat reconstruction model, Rockwood Ventures is investigating the establishment of domestic and international markets using existing sustainable Australian timber sources. This is coupled with the definition and establishment of a CCF Standard for high quality cabinet timber. The Standard must produce timber that is attractive to potential buyers. It must also be simple, robust, transparent and inexpensive enough for all stakeholders in the supply chain to implement [7]. It is envisioned that this initiative will grow a new sustainable forestry market and provide further incentive for others to adopt a CCF approach to reforestation. Interested timber growers and suppliers and other stakeholders are encouraged to forward any enquiries or expressions of interest to the Company Secretary.
Phase One – The initial research phase is now complete. The research plantings are located on the property of an existing ecotourism business. This business is expected to benefit as the regeneration of habitat improves the quantity and diversity of native fauna in the area. Rockwood Ventures has also established nursery infrastructure on the property to support full reforestation operations.
Rockwood Ventures hopes to team with other research partners to advance this field and better quantitatively measure the carbon sequestration advantages of natural soil biodiversity management in forestry. Significantly, CCF harvesting methods minimise soil disturbance, thereby improving carbon sequestration. It is important to reflect this in carbon credits. Ultimately, we hope to demonstrate an economic, eco-friendly alternative to the synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides used in contemporary silviculture and other agriculture.
Biological Soil management – Rockwood Ventures is investigating various regimes of biological soil management. Establishment and management of biodiverse, symbiotic biological communities in the soil provides significant benefit to plant health and carbon sequestration [3]. Healthy soil communities will:
provide natural, balanced nutrients to trees,
help keep pathogens and competitive weeds at bay, and
significantly increase carbon sequestration in the soil [4].
Carbon Sequestration in Quality Timber – In order to ensure that carbon remains sequestered in the timber for as long as possible, all timber will be quarter sawn, solar kiln-dried [5], and used preferentially for long-lasting products such as buildings, fine furniture, wooden boats and musical instruments. Arisings (branches, ‘lop-and-top’ off-cuts and small diameter roundwood) will also be used for carbon sequestration including mulch to improve soil health and pulpwood for other wood products, and potentially for biofuel [6]. Another less understood, advantage of timber for sequestration is the offset in reduced production of higher emission wood-product alternatives such as cement and steel. It is important to measure and capture these offsets in the production of carbon credits.