ACIAR researcher with 1-year old acacia hybrid
trees in Vietnam
ACIAR plays an important role in supporting forestry research projects that help 12 partner countries to protect, sustain and enhance the role that forests and trees play in their countries. To celebrate the International Day of Forests, let’s take a look at the role that one genus of Australian tree, Acacia, is playing in many countries.
This week ACIAR is supporting an important international meeting in Vietnam, involving scientists from around the world researching aspects of the growth, management and processing of acacia trees. Most of these trees are derived from Australian germplasm. In Australia, some species of acacia – such as Acacia melanoxylon – produce beautiful timbers that are prized for furniture making. However, most Australian acacias provide conservation and aesthetic benefits rather than commercial benefits.
In Indonesia and Vietnam the situation with Australian acacias is very different. After two decades of collaborative research and development, several acacia species now make very important contributions to rural livelihoods by providing wood resources for pulp and paper industries. In Vietnam they are also being used in some areas to provide sawn timber and veneers for furniture production.
|Acacia pulpwood in Sumatra, Indonesia|
The main focus of ACIAR’s forestry research on acacias is related to improving the productivity of tropical species, such as Acacia crassicarpa, Acacia mangium, Acacia auriculiformis and hybrids between these. It is estimated that over 940,000 hectares of tropical acacias are now grown in Vietnam, and more than half of these are grown by smallholder farmers. Vietnam is now the world’s largest exporter of hardwood woodchips and some 90% of the 5.4 million tonnes exported in 2011 was acacia, valued at US$600 million.
|Acacia outdoor furniture in Hanoi, Vietnam|
Growing acacias in plantations and farm woodlots is not without risks, particularly from pests and diseases. Significant areas of acacia plantation in Indonesia are suffering tree deaths as a result of infestations of root rot pathogens and stem canker and wilt diseases. ACIAR’s research in Indonesia is helping to try to find ways to limit the spread and severity of root rot pathogens and promoting attention to sustainability issues.
|Acacia mangium silviculture trial in northern Vietnam|
So on the 2014 International Day of Forests we celebrate the way that these Australian acacia trees are now helping to improve livelihoods for so many people while providing enhanced environmental benefits in rural landscapes in many Asian countries.
By Tony Bartlett, Forestry Research Program Manager
ACIAR projects on acacias:
FST/1992/027 Australian acacias for sustainable development in China, Vietnam and Australia 7
FST/2003/002 Development and evaluation of sterile triploids and polyploid breeding methodologies for commercial species of Acacia in Vietnam, South Africa and Australia
FST/2003/048 Management of fungal root rot in plantation acacias in Indonesia
FST/2006/087 Optimising silvicultural management and productivity of high-quality acacia plantations, especially for sawlogs
FST/2008/007 Advanced breeding and deployment methods for tropical acacias
FST/2008/039 Enhancement of production of acacia and eucalypt peeled and sliced veneer products in Vietnam and Australia
FST/2009/051 Increasing productivity and profitability of Indonesian smallholder plantations
ACIAR reports on acacia research:
FR2013-26 Optimising silvicultural management and productivity of high-quality acacia plantations, especially for sawlogs (2013)
FR2012-06 Management of fungal root rot in plantation acacias in Indonesia (2012)
FR2011-07 Realising genetic gains in Indonesia and Australian plantations through water and nutrient management (2011)
PR124 Heart rot and root rot in tropical Acacia plantations (2006)
PR082 Recent developments in acacia planting (1997)