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Relative windfirmness of New Zealand-grown Pinus radiata and Douglas-fir: A preliminary investigation

Relative windfirmness of New Zealand-grown Pinus radiata and Douglas-fir: A preliminary investigation

New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science 31(2): 208-223

The hypothesis that Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco (Douglas-fir) is more windfirm than Pinus radiata D. Don was tested by examining the factors which affect tree stability and comparing available data for each species. A tree-winching study performed on Douglas-fir trees of different sizes growing on Orthic Pumice soils found that their maximum resistive bending moments were not significantly different from those of P. radiata (p>0.05). A literature search was performed to determine the relative overturning bending moments of the two species. For each species, information was obtained on the drag coefficient, the crown frontal area, and the mass of the stem and crown. A mechanistic model for predicting the threshold hourly mean windspeed at which damage occurs was applied to a baseline stand of each species (mean top height 30 m, dbh 40 cm, and stocking 310 stems/ha). The Douglas-fir stand had a threshold windspeed of 24.3 m/s and the threshold windspeed for the P. radiata stand was 20.6 m/s. A recurrence function, fitted to extreme windspeed data from Rotorua airport, was applied to these critical windspeeds and showed that the risk of damage to P. radiata was 2.3 times greater than that to Douglas-fir. Over a period of 90 years, the analysis predicted that a P. radiata stand grown on a 28-year rotation was 3 times more likely to suffer catastrophic wind damage than a Douglas-fir stand grown on a 45-year rotation. The most critical factor behind these differences was the lower drag coefficient of Douglas-fir foliage.

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