Tree Improvement

Today, about one-third of the world's commercial wood supply comes from planted forests. By applying new tree improvement technologies, we have the potential to improve productivity and greatly reduce the land area needs to supply the world's timber.

Introduction to Biotechnology

The first biotech crop was planted in 1996. Today more than two billion cumulative acres have been planted in key agricultural crops such as soybean, cotton, maize and canola. In 2008 more than 300 acres of biotech crops were planted worldwide.

Global Area of Biotech Crops, 1996 to 2008 – Industrial and Developing Countries

MM Acres, MM Hectares


The reason for the success of biotechnology is that this science improves plant performance at a point in time when demand is outpacing supply and pollution, and land availability and climate change are constraining production. Plant biotechnology can provide answers to some of the world’s most pressing problems for energy and food security.
  • Biotechnology enables solutions:
    • Improved drought tolerance
    • Improved pest management
    • Mitigation of environmental pollutants using plants as natural filters

  • Biotech improves productivity and reduces production costs with these additional benefits
    • Improved sustainability
    • Improved energy security
    • Improved yield
    • Improved nutrition

For forestry, biotechnology can help

  • Trees grow faster, allowing more frequent harvests and providing more raw material for wood, fiber and energy
  • Develop trees better suited for paper production, so fewer chemicals and less energy are needed to process wood pulp for paper and packaging.
  • Improve wood quality and characteristics for solid wood products such as housing lumber, furniture, and flooring.
  • Restore and preserve trees that are endangered by diseases or pests such as the American Chestnut, Flowering Dogwood and American Elm.
  • Produce enough quantity and quality seedlings to replace a species that has been wiped out in a region due to disease or insect, such as the Oak, Dutch Elm and American Ash.
  • Develop practical, solutions like fast growing, and short rotation trees for biomass for use in bioenergy.
  • Develop trees that grow fast enough to help increase energy security by having enough wood to co-fire and supply energy for plants that produce electricity.

At ArborGen, we are fully immersed in the science of tree improvement and use every tool at our disposal to coax the full potential from our germplasm stocks, from conventional breeding through to advanced biotechnology. ArborGen fully employs science in the discovery and development of superior commercial trees.