World Rainforest Movement

Clonal tree monocultures and genetic engineering in New Zealand

Aotearoa (New Zealand) has planted extensive industrial tree plantations (more than one and a half million hectares), mostly based on one exotic tree species: Pinus radiata. In recent decades planting clonal stock has become standard practice. Currently, more than 95% of new planting (this includes new afforestation and planting after harvest) is based on Pinus radiata clones, selected primarily for rapid growth (and thus reliance on fertilisers), tree form to maximise the amount of `clear’ (knot free) wood, and qualities that suit industrial purposes. Current research focuses indicate that it won’t be long before the industry will be attempting to release genetically engineered material, particularly for herbicide (glyphosate) resistance, particular growth form or wood quality traits, and sterility (to stop naturalisation into indigenous ecosystems).

Source: Grant Rosoman, Greenpeace New Zealand, author of “The plantation effect: an ecoforestry review on the environmental effects of exotic monoculture tree plantations in Aotearoa/New Zealand.” Wellington, Greenpeace, 1994.