In early February the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA ran this story about how the Colville National Forest is starting to gain traction in terms of forest management. Colville National forest poised to set records as both timber harvest, restoration increase It’s a good story, but admittedly it is probably a little too eager on the getting … Continue reading "Forests of Abundance"
Admission prompts calls for transparency over Tokyo 2020 supply chain with timber sourced from deforestation hotspot
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Australian researchers have developed a world-leading genetic DNA testing system that can predict key commercial attributes of an adult eucalyptus tree from a single seedling leaf, and provide a strong return on investment to forest growers.
With research funding from Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) and industry to validate the technology, this breakthrough could enable foresters to dramatically reduce the breeding cycle of Eucalyptus globulus (blue gum) and Eucalytpus nitens (shining gum) trees, significantly speeding up improvements to log quality.
Traditional breeding cycles are typically a decade or more, but modelling suggests the time can be halved with the new system and the genetic gains per year doubled or trebled, with a financial return of $8 for every $1 invested.
Unlike traditional crops, which have been bred over thousands of years and no longer resemble their wild forebears, eucalypts are genetically diverse, have long breeding cycles and are still close to their wild states – meaning the potential for gains are large.
The new system assesses the quality of a tree or seedling by DNA testing a 5mm hole punch of a leaf for thousands of genetic markers developed by CSIRO and correlated with commercial attributes. This project identified new genetic markers for wood density, and validated those, along with using previously-discovered markers for growth and pulp yield.
The researchers tested the DNA and commercial attributes of parent trees, and the DNA alone of their adult offspring. They used the DNA of the offspring to predict the parent’s commercial attributes – and the results proved to be highly accurate. Robert Southerton, the Managing Director of Gondwana Genomics, which was founded in 2014 and licensed the genetic markers from CSIRO, said researchers had not expected the high degree of accuracy of the genetic testing.
“Surprised is an understatement. We couldn’t believe it. We had to go back and check again and again, and the results held up,” he said. “In the past, we’d done similar research with a smaller group of genetic markers, and with slower testing techniques, and we’d had only mixed results.”
To make the breakthrough, the Gondwana Genomics research team developed a new method of cheaper, faster genetic DNA testing which enabled them to test over a thousand samples a day for less than $50 each instead of only 200 a day for over $100 each.
“If I’d known at the outset how many challenges we’d have to overcome to make this work, I would never have staked my house on setting up the business. The accuracies we have achieved would be considered very good in crops and it is phenomenal to get this in trees,” he said.
Trees, he explained, were exceptionally difficult to breed in the traditional manner for better genetics due to: a long cycle that means errors can creep in over time; difficulty separating out whether tree characteristics are genetic or environmental; and accidental pollination in planned cross-breeding.
Leveraging industry for ground-breaking trial
In total, the project screened over 11,000 seedlings from industry partners Forico, Australian Bluegum Plantations and HVP Plantations. Forico planted several hundred seedlings selected from almost 7000 screened – making for one of the first ever sizeable applications of marker assisted tree breeding in the world.
Research and Innovation Manager, Andrew Jacobs, said Forico had planted some seedlings identified via DNA as elite performers, as well as others at the middle and bottom end for comparison.
“At the moment, the DNA is predictive of quality, but the actual quality traits don’t start to really show until the tree is around the five-to-seven year mark,” he said. “In the meantime, we’ll continue to use this new technology in conjunction with our current methods. Down the track, when we’re more comfortable, I could see us moving further into this space.”
Forico decided to participate and invest in the trial because of its large and independent breeding program in nitens, he said. “We felt this technology could keep us at the forefront in terms of our breeding program given the success of the approach in other plants, and in animals.”
Maintaining genetic diversity, and other uses
In addition to identifying quality seedlings, the genetic profiling has a number of other potential applications including:
– Identifying seedlings that are genetically diverse for breeding – as inbred trees have greater pest and disease risk
– Accurately identifying a seedling’s parents
– Estimating inbreeding
– Creating a DNA fingerprint for a particular tree, eliminating the risk of mis-labelling
– Helping with ‘due diligence’ in valuing plantations
– Auditing existing tree improvement programs
– Breeding trees to combat specific risks, such as being disease-resistant.
According to Robert Southerton, the next steps are demonstrating genetic differences within siblings in tree families, industry adoption of the new technology, exports and the potential to use their DNA testing method in other crops and, potentially, human research. Forico’s Andrew Jacobs also sees opportunities to identify DNA markers for other traits such as disease resistance, fertiliser use and resistance to stressors such as frost, heat and drought – and to further validate existing markers.
R&D Manager at FWPA, Chris Lafferty, congratulated the researchers and industry participants. “This is leading edge science, of great potential value to industry – and we’re proud to have played a part in terms both of funding and of facilitating this collaboration. It’s a prime example of the type of work we do at FWPA, investing industry levies and Commonwealth matching funds towards the generation of solutions to current and future challenges the industry will face.”
Photo: Credit: Andreachinn (Creative Commons)
The post Australian forest research breakthrough | 23 Feb 2018 appeared first on International Forest Industries.
It’s being announced that Prue Younger has accepted the position as Chief Executive for FICA (Forest Industry Contractors Association). Prue will commence this role on April 1, 2018 in a part time capacity for the next 12 months, as she will continue as Eastland Wood Council CEO until a new appointment is made.
Prue has an extensive background in marketing, promotions & event management. She has several governance roles and chair positions in sport, health and community trusts. As director of Public Impressions Ltd, she has also been instrumental in the establishment of several forestry award campaigns around the country.
Eastland Wood Council (EWC) would like to thank her for her great efforts over the past 2 ½ years, she has really moved EWC forward and set the benchmark for what a wood council can achieve so it will be a great loss to the organisation. However, we congratulate her on her appointment with FICA and am sure they will benefit from her skill base and knowledge now in the forest industry.
The post New CEO for FICA (Forest Industry Contractors Association) NZ | 23 Feb 2018 appeared first on International Forest Industries.
KiwiRail is reaping the benefits of an innovative growth strategy for its NZ forestry business designed to make the best use of its wagon fleet. Its financial result released this week shows an 8% revenue increase in its overall forestry business in just the six months to December. That is being driven by strong growth in the volume of logs.
“We have been working closely with the industry to maximise our ability to meet the wall of wood now coming on stream, as the result of the large volume of trees planted in early 1990s,” says KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy.
“Our log wagon fleet has grown by 40% since 2011. We have some very clever thinkers on our team and have been able to do this in an innovative and cost-efficient way by converting wagons retired from our container fleet.”
“This is happening as fast as possible, and we are running trains up to seven days a week in all our key forestry routes. However current demand is so strong we could be doing more.”
“There are more than 130 additional log wagon conversions coming on stream over the next six months, which will allow us to meet further demand this year; and a further 200 wagon conversions are planned for the 2019 financial year”.
“In the Bay of Plenty alone KiwiRail runs 60 forestry trains each week to the Port of Tauranga, from Murupara-Kawerau and Kinleith. Those trains are taking the equivalent of up to 340 trucks a day off eastern Bay of Plenty roads”.
“KiwiRail is continuing to work with the industry to identify further opportunities to take more logs off the road and onto rail. We have already worked successfully with industry to develop log hubs in key locations on the network where local forests are not directly served by rail”.
“This sees significant volumes of logs now moving to Napier Port and CentrePort from log hubs in Masterton, Whanganui and Palmerston North, rather than travelling by road. Consolidating volumes and running to export ports by train is a cost-effective option for forestry owners/harvesters.”
“Rail also generates 66% fewer carbon emissions compared to heavy trucks for every tonne of freight moved”.
The post Forestry a success story for KiwiRail | 23 Feb 2018 appeared first on International Forest Industries.
The NZ Government says it is close to securing 50,000 hectares of land for new forests under its Billion Trees programme. The programme, to see a billion trees planted over 10 years, is part of the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First.
The government-owned forestry organisation Crown Forestry is writing to landowners offering to go into joint ventures to plant un-forested land with radiata pine. The Crown would pay for the cost of establishing the forests, and landowners would get the carbon credits.
Forestry minister Shane Jones has told Parliament that 12,500ha has already been secured, with negotiations under way over another 30,000ha. “The Crown is now engaging with Mâori landowners and other categories of landowners, and the size of the land package, reflective of that engagement, is now up to 30,000 hectares,” he said in response to questions from National Party forestry spokesman Nick Smith.
“When one adds the nigh-on 12,000 hectares that we have already secured, and in the event that the 30,000 is successful, I am but a small step away from 50,000 hectares.”
Smith told Jones that the Director-General of Conservation, Lou Sanson, had told Parliament’s environment select committee that his department had very little land available for planting trees, and asked Jones whether he agreed with conservation minister Eugenie Sage that only native trees should be planted on conservation land.
Jones said that native and exotic trees would be part of the Billion Trees programme. “The percentage and the mix of trees that might be grown on the DOC estate has yet to be settled,” he said.
Source: Carbon News 2018
The post NZ – Billion Trees land approaches 50,000 hectares | 23 Feb 2018 appeared first on International Forest Industries.
Deforestation is driven by human activity, but by employing innovative technologies to predict and monitor changes in land use, countries will be far better equipped to halt its spread, a panel session heard on Thursday during the final day of a major international conference on halting deforestation and increasing forest cover.
Productive and healthy forests are crucial for meeting sustainable development, climate, land and biodiversity goals
Maintaining productive, diverse and healthy forests is crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, this can only be accomplished through political will and concerted action across sectors, stakeholders and institutions at all levels.
(Prince George, BC) – The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) is launching its 2018 scholarship program and is seeking students entering post-secondary programs to apply. Ten $1,500 scholarships are awarded to students who are enrolled in professional, technical, or trades studies at specific interior institutions with the goal of pursuing a career in the […]
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