Keywords: forest biotechnology, genetic engineering, forest trees, wood quality, economics, cost modelling, breeding, loblolly pine, kraft linerboard, USA, United States, wood properties, cash flow modelling, pulp and paper industry, fibre tensile strength, specific gravity
The value of forest biotechnology: a cost modelling study with loblolly pine and kraft linerboard in the southeastern USA
Commercialisation of biological technologies for forest tree species is driven by the promise of dramatically lower raw material costs, maximal processing efficiencies, minimal environmental impacts and improved product performances. The economic value of such biotechnological changes to wood property traits in forest trees have not been well quantified due to the complexity of producing wood and paper products. As a case study, we used multidimensional cash flow modelling of a loblolly pine plantation and an integrated kraft pulp and linerboard mill to quantify the potential value of trees with improved growth and wood properties. The greatest increases in profit were estimated for higher fibre tensile strength followed by increased specific gravity while higher cellulose to lignin ratio and growth showed similar potentials. These results strongly support the forest industry goal of using biotechnology methods to improve the growth and wood properties of trees grown for paper products.