Funding for Tree Breeders Association

INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING: Tree Breeding Australia board chairperson Dr Andrew Jacobs with Minister for Forestry Clare Scriven, Tree Breeding Australia general manager Dr Tony McRae and Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell celebrate the funding with staff and stakeholders. Picture: CHARLOTTE VARCOE

Charlotte Varcoe

A NEW research facility will be built on the outskirts of Mount Gambier/Berrin following a state government investment of $450,000.

The funding will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Tree Breeding Australia (TBA) with the new infrastructure expected to be built on its Kilsby Road property.

Currently on the property a vast number of parent trees kick start the genetic testing and breeding program.

The not-for-profit organisation was founded in 1983 and has consolidated the resources and individual research programs of industry stakeholders for a national approach to improving the nation’s two main commercially harvested tree species.

This includes sata, experience and statistical analysis with its breeding programs, integrated tools and systems operating on a rolling front.

The organisation manages the Australian tree improvement programs for radiata pine and blue gum while also providing genetic evaluation services in forest trees.

The facility will be designed for pollen processing, seed handling, processing wood core samples, DNA extraction and storage as well as soil and water quality testing.

TBA board chairperson Dr Andrew Jacobs said the genetic resource was really important moving forward for the resilience and the productivity of industrial plantations present in both Mount Gambier/Berrin and nationally.

“This is a centre which caters for members all over the country, not just in the Green Triangle, so it is a really important national investment that has been made here,” Mr Jacobs said.

“This piece of infrastructure will go on the ground and enable the staff to better be able to undertake the job and be able to do it in a safer space.”

He said staff would be able to collect tissues from the trees, extracting and go about their work all in one facility.

“It is a needed piece of infrastructure for the organisation and it is really important for not only the Mount Gambier forestry industry but the Australian industry more broadly,” Mr Jacobs said.

“This is a member-based organisation and we have been trying to work out a way of funding a piece of infrastructure for a number of years.

“It is very hard to get members to contribute to fund infrastructure so having the South Australian government come out and support us is really important.”

He said the project had been in the pipeline for about a decade with members trying to secure grants and other funding streams.

“It has been a long process so I am super grateful for it to get here today,” he said.

“This will enable us to focus on the genetics that have been deployed into the plantations as so many of the plantations in Australia will experience change in terms of climate conditions.

“All of the material which is in here today and the infrastructure that will be built in the not too distant future will help us continue to improve the genetics of the plantation trees that are being deployed and this is really important for the resilience and sustainability for the ongoing productivity of timber.”

Minister for Forestry Clare Scriven said the state government understood TBA was a leader locally, nationally and internationally in terms of genetic research.

“Genetic research is incredibly important for the longevity of the timber industry and we are trying to get the most value out of each tree,” Ms Scriven said.

“We want each tree to be the best it can for current and future needs so this is the really important work Tree Breeding Australia does.”

She said all the genetic aspects which go into the process was part of the “big picture” of what needed to be done.

“There is a lot of work that goes into it and we are leaders here in genetics and providing appropriate facilities which is going to be really important in ensuring we can continue and continue to the most productive level possible,” Ms Scriven said.

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell welcomed the announcement after visiting the site several years ago.

“We looked at the facilities here and sympathised with the Tree Breeders Association and they did need an upgrade to the physical facilities including toilets and an undercover area,” Mr Bell said.

“These are facilities we all take for granted especially on a cold, winter day and I greatly appreciate this investment and it is good to see this money going into those facilities but it is also a credit to the TBA board as well for matching dollar for dollar with the state government.”