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Murici Carlos Candelaria e Caio Varonil de Almada Oliveira

R&D Manager and Eucalyptus Breeder from Arborgen, respectively


Innovation: the future of planted forests

The Brazilian planted forest has been standing out on different fronts, further highlighting the country's potential, not only in terms of natural resources, but also in its capacity for innovation and sustainability.

Over the last few decades, the forestry sector in Brazil has received more and more technologies, which previously had their focus only on the agricultural sector. Technological advancement in Brazilian planted forests is undoubtedly driven by fierce competition within the sector. The search for efficiency and quality has motivated companies to adopt the latest innovations in their forest management practices. This healthy market competition has been a catalyst for the rapid development and implementation of cutting-edge technologies. One of the main areas where this advance is noticeable is in forestry.

Thanks to the use of technologies such as drones, GPS, remote sensors and data analysis software, forest monitoring is increasingly accurate and efficient. This scenario allows for smarter resource management, identifying areas that require specific intervention, such as pest control, and optimizing the use of inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides.

Another important aspect to consider is the significant investment in research and development, with emphasis on genetic improvement research. Universities, research institutions and private companies are constantly collaborating in this regard. The search for new materials adapted to different soil and climate conditions consolidates the increase in productivity and strengthens the sector's competitiveness in the global market.

Genetic improvement has been an area of intense research and development within the Brazilian forestry sector. Despite significant advances, it is important to recognize that new genetic materials have not always outperformed their predecessors. This can be attributed to a variety of factors, including the genetic complexity of the trees, the interaction between different traits, and the need for extensive field testing. to validate the performance of new varieties. Still, continued investment in genetic research is crucial to address the challenges posed by climate change and ensure the long-term sustainability of the Brazilian forestry sector.

Today, climate change represents perhaps the biggest challenge for improvement, directly affecting the rainfall and temperature regime. Rising temperatures and unstable precipitation patterns have significant impacts on tree growth and development, affecting the productivity and health of forest plantations, as well as eucalyptus pest and disease populations. Faced with these challenges, it is essential that the Brazilian forestry sector adopts adaptation and mitigation strategies to face the impacts of climate change and ensure the resilience of forests in the face of rapidly changing environmental conditions.

In recent years, a large number of clones of the Eucalyptus genus have stopped being planted on a commercial scale in Brazil, as they cannot withstand the biotic and abiotic adversities that currently plague the country's forestry. This suggests that only genes from traditional species like Eucalyptus urophylla and Eucalyptus grandis, which were used to develop almost all eucalyptus clones currently cultivated, are not sufficient to develop new clones that can withstand the current challenging scenario.

As a result, it is extremely necessary for companies in the forestry sector to have alternative genetic materials to meet their demands. Recently, several species of the Eucalyptus genus have gained importance for Brazilian forestry, as an example we can mention: Eucalyptus pellita , Eucalyptus longirostrata, Eucalyptus brassiana, Eucalyptus robusta, Eucalyptus dunnii, Eucalyptus benthamii, Eucalyptus siderophoia , Eucalyptus major, Eucalyptus pilularis, Eucalyptus smithii, and Eucalyptus badjensis.

This occurred mainly after public and private research institutions released reports on the silvicultural performance of these non-traditional species, highlighting how they can positively impact the sector, if used in forest improvement programs. The good news is that many of these species have already been domesticated in Brazil and there are already hybrid clones composed of some of these species in the final stages of development in breeding programs.

We can also mention other species such as Eucalyptus citriodora, Eucalyptus torelliana, Eucalyptus maculata, and Eucalyptus henryi that at the beginning of 2024 made up the genus Corymbia, but which were once again classified as belonging to the genus Eucalyptus by the main taxonomists who study them. Hybrid clones of these species, which until recently were called Corymbia torelliodora are already being planted on a commercial scale in some national and international companies, for the production of cellulose and charcoal.

These clones have proven to be tolerant to the main pests and diseases that harm eucalyptus cultivation, in addition to having better wood quality for use in the most different segments of industrial activity based on eucalyptus wood. Therefore, through the exploration of the genetic diversity of other species not as explored as Eucalyptus urophylla and Eucalyptus grandis, there are great opportunities to increase productivity and make eucalyptus forests more resilient to climate change, new pests and diseases.