Programme Leader: Tree Biotechnology
BSc Honours Botany
Forestry career: 19 years
Forest tree breeding programmes were originally developed to guarantee the genetic origin of reproductive material and improve tree characteristics. The focus today is responding to environmental changes.
The Tree Biotechnology Programme aims to develop new genomic tools that complement conventional breeding strategies. It involves finding associations between the genetic blueprint of individual trees (their DNA) and traits like growth, pulp yield, pest and disease resistance. Predictions on seedlings can be made early on, thus ensuring that we only test and establish our best material. This allows us to more rapidly turn over populations and realise genetic gains.
WHY I LOVE WORKING IN THE FORESTRY SECTOR
In my long career at Sappi, I have had the opportunity to work with several inspirational people who have made it an exciting and stimulating environment to be in. I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to many facets of the business and to learn from these experiences. I am particularly excited by the cutting-edge work I am currently involved in because it has the potential to make huge impact on our business.
MY ADVICE TO THOSE EXPLORING A CAREER IN FORESTRY
The forestry industry is no longer just about ‘managing plantations’. It has become a complex, multi-faceted business that provides many opportunities. It requires highly-skilled people from a diverse set of disciplines who can network together to rapidly implement and integrate new technologies that make our business more effective. Drones, satellites, mechanisation and molecular tools, the sky is the limit!