ENSURING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF OUR PLANTATIONS THROUGH VARIETIES
Our plantations encompass a huge diversity of environments, ranging from warm, year-round growing conditions in sub-tropical Zululand to cold temperate areas with winters exposed to both frost and snow during the winter season. Accordingly, Sappi breeders have focused on developing and testing a large range of new varieties with species sourced from around the world. New technologies, such as the use of molecular marker technologies, are helping breeders improve both the quality and throughput of the varieties that can be tested and developed.
We are shifting from planting pure species to more productive, better adapted, and more pest and disease resistant varieties of both hardwood and softwood trees. This change in strategy is being driven by the need to respond more rapidly to the combined challenges of increased globalisation and changing weather patterns (driven by climate change) that are resulting in significant increases in pests and diseases in the tree crop (see previous page). The benefit of developing new varieties is that breeders can combine the benefits from two or more species and develop varieties that have improved fibre yield and quality as well as better disease/pest tolerance.