• About
  • Forestry Investment
  • World Forestry Update
  • Archives
  • Categories
  • The Australians are coming to South Carolina

    2010 - 02.25

    South Carolina’s ArborGen LLC, a joint biotech venture between US forestry leaders International Paper and MeadWestvaco want to find out if fiddling about with the genes of trees can rescue America’s forestry sector. They hope to plant large areas of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in the Southeastern United States.

    Eucalyptus is native to Australia but owing to its rapid, dense growth and the size it can grow to it has been widely cultivated elsewhere, particularly in Brazil. Due to these sterling qualities eucalyptus has enjoyed huge commercial success and now dominates the tropical timber industry.

    Typically the eucalyptus thrives only in tropical or subtropical climes so no surprise why it is popular in Brazil. But ArborGen has introduced a new genetic trait to help the tree withstand mild freezing conditions such as frost. This will (they hope) allow it to be grown as far north as the Carolinas. The company is hopeful that it will provide a substitute for the native pine, which can’t compete with the higher yields and quick rotations.

    In South Africa eucalyptus plantations have already been establish but the species became invasive and critics warn that this could happen in South Carolina. To prevent this ArborGen has already introduced another new trait, which inhibits pollen production and will (hopefully) neuter the trees.

    To date the company’s experimentation has been limited but the US Department of Agriculture is now considering if ArborGen should be allowed to conduct a broader ‘controlled field release’ in which cloned plants will be allowed to flower. Either way the project is unlikely to affect the forestry industry for some years to come.

    The Timber Investment Blog is sponsored by Greenwood Management. For more information on investing in Forestry please click here

    Your Reply