Forestry Sowing The Formula For Future-Proof Trees

Across The LSC


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Tree Breeding Australia’s pine breeder Peter Buxton with tree planter Katherine Cvetnic at a plantation estate near Rennick.

Each of these tiny radiata pine seedlings is sowing the formula for a prosperous forestry future.

An estimated 23 million seedlings have been planted across the Green Triangle by a team of more than 150 tree planters over recent weeks, with timely winter rainfall aiding their work to make it one of the best seasons in recent years.

Among the estate are a series of specially bred seedlings being planted across various trial sites created by Tree Breeding Australia (TBA) which will be studied over the coming years to identify improved genetics for the nation’s forest growers.

TBA general manager Dr Tony McRae leads the national tree improvement cooperative which aims to improve the quality and value of the plantation resource. TBA is engaged by forest growers nationwide wanting to learn how to master genetics and the production of high-grade timber.

There is a growing global audience of timber growers watching this specialised work, keen to learn from the Green Triangle’s methods.

Dr McRae has been on the ground at Rennick and Mount Burr this week assisting to plant trial plots each containing 9500 trees from about 300 different families.

“Each tree is genetically unique and its performance will be measured for various growth form, such as branching and stem straightness, and wood property traits at various ages over the next five to 30 years,” he said.

“The objective is to find the next generation of trees that will grow faster, be straighter with smaller branches and have improved timber stiffness for milling structural grade timber.

“Ultimately our role is to ensure the forest owners grow a healthy tree, generating structurally superior timber for processing in our local mills.”

The local trials planted this month are among many spread over time across the Green Triangle and other plantation region’s growing radiata pine.

“It is anticipated that just five to 10 of the very best trees in each trial will be selected for grafting into future seed orchards to produce genetically improved seed for the next generation of plantations,” Dr McRae said.

Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub executive general manager Liz McKinnon said TBAs work was assisting to further position the region as a global leader in forestry and growing the domestic manufacturing base.

“This cutting-edge research by Tree Breeding Australia has the world watching. Collaborating scientists from countries such as Sweden and France are eager to learn from this Green Triangle research which is assisting to get more value from each tree grown,” Ms McKinnon said.

“Our Hub has set a strategy to grow more trees, in the right place at the right scale to achieve zero waste. Tree Breeding Australia’s research is providing the foundations to achieve this with the formulation of genetics which will grow trees faster and generate stronger, straighter fibre to generate more structural grade timber to grow the domestic manufacturing base, creating more local jobs.”

Ewan Grant

15 July 2020

Article by:

Ewan Grant




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