Improved loblolly pines better for the environment, study finds

Apr 17, 2012

(Phys.org) -- More than 50 years of genetics work to increase loblolly pine production in the Southeast has improved the trees' ability to act as carbon sinks that mitigate climate change, according to a new study by North Carolina State University researchers.

"We've been working to create trees that grow faster and produce more wood, and what this research shows is that at the same time we're enhancing environmental quality by scrubbing as much carbon out of the atmosphere as we possibly can," says Dr. John King, an NC State forest ecologist and co-author of a paper published this month in the journal .

The study estimated a 17 percent increase in stem-wood production and a 13 percent increase in in improved loblolly pines planted throughout the Southeast between 1968 and 2007. Three generations of enhanced seedlings were released over that 40-year period.

Pine plantations cover about 15 percent of forested land in the South. Each year, almost a billion loblolly pine seedlings are planted, typically taking 25 years to reach maturity.

"We're reaping the benefits today of work our predecessors did, and our work will affect our children and grandchildren," says co-author Dr. Steve McKeand, NC State forestry professor and director of the Cooperative Tree Improvement Program, a public/private partnership founded in 1956.

The study marks one of the first attempts to quantify the effects of improved tree genetics on across a large landscape, McKeand and King say.

Explore further: Climate pledges: Deadline sees slow but promising start

More information: "Carbon Sequestration from 40 Years of Planting Genetically Improved Loblolly Pine Across the Southeast United States"
Authors: Michael J. Aspinwall, University of Texas at Austin; Steven E. McKeand and John S. King, North Carolina State University
Published: April 2012, in Forest Science

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Germany restricts fracking but doesn't ban it

2 hours ago

The German cabinet drew up rules Wednesday on the hitherto unregulated technology of "fracking" in Germany, narrowly restricting its use, but stopping short of an outright ban.

Life in the poisonous breath of sleeping volcanos

2 hours ago

Researchers of the University Jena analyze the microbial community in volcanically active soils. In a mofette close to the Czech river Plesná in north-western Bohemia, the team around Prof. Dr. Kirsten Küsel ...

Eggs and chicken instead of beef reap major climate gains

3 hours ago

Beef on our plates is one of the biggest climate villains, but that does not mean we have to adopt a vegan diet to reach climate goals. Research results from Chalmers University of Technology show that adopting ...

Local action needed to protect nature from global warming

6 hours ago

Stronger local management can increase the resilience of nature to the impacts of climate change, writes an international team of researchers in Science. The authors examined three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: ...

Deforestation is messing with our weather and our food

6 hours ago

Today, the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) at the University of Maryland published new research in Nature Communications providing insight into how large-scale deforestation could ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.