The strategic importance of applied tree conservation programs to the forest industry in South Africa

  • WS Dvorak


Because of anticipated adverse climatic change and resulting increases in disease and insect attacks in forest plantations in the future, forest industries must maintain broad genetic bases for adaptability and pest resistance. Since the early 1980s, the South African forest industry has obtained genetic material of 25 pine and eucalypt species that represent more than 4 200 trees from 260 natural populations around the world through its participation in Camcore (International Tree Breeding and Conservation Program) at North Carolina State University, USA. This combined genetic testing and conservation program has identified new productive pine species, such as P. tecunumanii and P. maximinoi, that grow well and are resistant in the seedling stage to the pitch canker fungus (Fusarium circinatum). Because of the industry’s foresight to assemble genetic material and test alternate species over the last three decades, it was well prepared to immediately develop more-resistant pine hybrids such as P. patula × P. tecunumanii when the pitch canker situation became problematic. The South African forest industry has collectively worked together to established special 20–40 ha conservation parks across the country to hold and protect the original genetic material collected in Central America, Mexico and South-east Asia. Species are conserved in the parks at the population level and are represented by a minimum of 10 open-pollinated families, five trees per family across two sites. The design is based on maintaining an effective population size of approximately 30 with the goal to capture alleles at high frequencies as well as to include a number of rare alleles in the ex situ plantings. The overlying goal is to maintain well-adapted genetic material for future deployment.

Southern Forests 2012, 74(1): 1–6

Author Biography

WS Dvorak
College of Natural Resources, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-2639
print ISSN: 2070-2620