Enhancing EverGreen.

Tree breeding increases tree growth by 20%

In the Nordic countries, new reforestation materials (improved seed) from nationwide tree improvement programmes have significantly increased the productivity of forestry based on native species. Present level of genetic gains in volume growth ranges between 10 and 25% in comparison with unimproved populations (Jansson et. al. 2016). This is the result of scientific tree improvement research carried out systematically after 1950s. Similar results have been observed with Sitka Spruce in Ireland (Thompson 2013). In consequence, the rotation time in managed sustainable forests can be reduced, hence further boosting the genetic gain because of the time value of money.

Since 1990s fast growing eucalyptus and acacia pulpwood plantations in Brazil, Uruguay, Indonesia and elsewhere have been largely based on vegetatively propagated improved genetic material (clones). Generally speaking, clonal pulpwood plantations yield 40% more than seedling plantations under same site conditions (e.g. Zobel and Talbert 1984). In pulpwood plantations, tree improvement pays great attention to wood characteristics, such as basic density and pulp yield. The ultimate goal is to minimize the specific wood consumption per ton of pulp and maximize the fibre and pulp production in terms of tons/ha/year.

In the context of sustainable climate-smart forestry, Dasos deploys the best available genetic material in the assets under management. Benefits of the improved seed material can be internalized in planted forests – but unfortunately not in continuous cover forestry with a clear drawback. There is a tight correlation between volume growth and amount of CO2 sequestered. Hence tree improvement is also a climate action. In addition, the results of the breeding research are currently proving useful in terms of adapting forestry to the changing climate (e.g. Haapanen and Mikola 2008).

For further information, please contact Petteri Seppänen, petteri.seppanen@dasos.fi