Assessment of crown woody biomass in Eucalyptus grandis and E. globulus plantations

Document Type


Publication details

Rance, SJ, Mendham, DS & Cameron, DM 2017, 'Assessment of crown woody biomass in Eucalyptus grandis and E. globulus plantations', New Forests, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 381-396.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



Young trees were harvested to explore non-destructive methodologies to estimate live branch dry weights in young fast-growing Eucalyptus species under different spacing and fertilizer treatments. Branch growth can vary with silvicultural management such as spacing, fertilizing and thinning, and over relatively short periods in response to environmental conditions. Many published regressions based on standard measurements of height and diameter are site, age and treatment specific. The aim of this study was to improve our capacity to predict woody crown dry weight, based on stem measurements, and to minimize (or eliminate) treatment effects on the resulting model. In young trees, branches are temporary support structures for foliage and are often discarded as the base of the green crown rises. As temporary structures they represent an investment of biomass and nutrient elements, and are subject to selection pressures to maximize the return on investment by the tree. Trees were harvested from existing plantation experiments located in south-eastern Queensland for E. grandis W. Hill ex Maiden (ranging from 0.28 to 15.85 m in height, to 5 years old) and south-western Australia for E. globulus Labill. (0.10–34.4 m in height, to 10.2 years) in order to examine the impact of spacing, nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization on early growth. Relationships to estimate crown woody biomass from non-destructive measurements were developed, and these relationships tended to have different slopes and intercepts for trees with predominantly juvenile foliage and those with intermediate or adult foliage. Dry weight of whole-crown live branch wood (Wbranch) was related to heights and/or diameter at breast height (DBH), but the regressions parameters were different, depending on treatment. The relationships became more generic (i.e. less dependent on treatment effects) between Wbranch and stem sectional area at the height of the base of the green crown (SACB), consistent with the pipe model theory (R2 > 0.91 for the two species for trees with intermediate/adult leaves). However, Wbranch was more closely related again to the stem volume above the base of the green crown and treatment effects were not significant (VCon,gc, R2 > 0.93). Branches exit the stem below the green crown, and for E. grandis the best relationship was on stem volume above the lowest live branch (VCon,llb, R2 0.94). Limited sampling from four other species with similar or contrasting crown characteristics indicated that the relationship could be applied quite generally. Individual E. grandis branch woody dry weight was closely related to the conical volume of the main (first order) branch (Vcon,br, R2 0.98). The whole crown equivalent, branch woody dry weight plus stem dry weight above the lowest live branch, was also closely related to the stem volume within the woody crown (VCon,llb, R2 0.97–0.99). While the slope of this relationship was still significantly different between trees with juvenile and intermediate/adult foliage, it had a similar form, suggesting that trees with juvenile foliage allocated a different proportion of their woody biomass within the crown to branches than older trees.