Operational gain : measuring the capture of genetic gain : operational deployment of technology

  • Robert N Pallett
  • Giovanni Sale


The southern African forestry and forest products industry contributes two percent of the countries gross domestic product, yet is one of the most globalised industrial sectors. Forest product exports make up eight percent of the countries total exports and produce an annual net trade surplus of R5 billion. To remain globally competitive, the southern African forestry industry must continue to produce low cost wood of the required quality for processors. Increasing yield per hectare is a significant means to achieving this aim and is actively pursued by industry players, particularly through genetic improvement of planting stock. To maximise future productivity from plantations, it is important to consider and measure a number of components within the deployment process. The concept of operational gain is more than the weighted average of the genetic quality of planted hectares, and encompasses tree breeding efficiencies, propagation efficiencies, matching of species and genotype to site, plant use efficiency and early measures of stand density and growth. To test the operational gain concept, trials have been planted to eucalypts in the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands. Two and a half year volume measurements from two of these trials are presented. The trials test a factorial combination of species, genetic level, stand density and level of silvicultural input. Results at two and a half years demonstrate the additive nature of yield gains associated with each of these factors. The results confirm the need to measure efficiencies in all the components of the deployment process in order to maximise productivity. It is suggested that the measurement of operational gain, should include the measure of genetic gain against established benchmarks, conformance to site/species matching best practice, plant use efficiency and the assessment of stand density and variation in height at one year, for eucalypt pulpwood crops.

Southern African Forestry Journal No.195 2002: 33-38

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-2639
print ISSN: 2070-2620