Discussion Paper

Biotechnology's Potential Contribution to Global Wood Supply and Forest Conservation

Nov 1, 2001 | Roger A. Sedjo

Abstract

Over the past 30 years, industrial plantation forests have become a major supplier of industrial wood. There are several reasons for this, including the improved economics of planted forests due to biotechnological innovations, the increases in natural forest wood costs due to increasing inaccessibility, and rising wood costs from natural forests due to new environmental restrictions related to logging. Forestry today is on the threshold of the widespread introduction of biotechnology into its operational practices. In many cases, the biotechnology likely to be introduced is simply an extension of that being utilized in agriculture, such as herbicide-tolerant genes. However, biotechnology in forestry also is developing applications unique to forestry, including genes for fiber modification, lignin reduction and extraction, and for the promotion of straight stems and reduced branching.