Australia's national tree is expected to become a new choice to ease the soaring pulp needs of China's paper industry.
Eucalyptus, a fast-growing and high-yield subtropical species mainly found in Australia, could provide more cost-effective pulp material for China's paper manufacturing if planted in sufficient quantity.
China's forestry scientists have successfully improved eucalyptus varieties and created a forest dubbed Asia's largest "eucalyptus gene bank" in southern China's Zhuang Autonomous Region, where the trees are widely planted.
"Since 1982, we have introduced over 200 seed sources of 174 varieties on the basis of upgrading and yield tests. A eucalyptus gene base worth popularizing in China was also established, which covers 100-plus varieties and 900-plus clones," said Xiang Dongyun, eucalyptus expert and vice president of the local provincial Academy of Forestry.
New varieties grown at the base are generally "ultra fast-growing eucalyptus." These trees can be felled six years after planting with a yield of more than 60 cubic meters per ha. per year, according to Xiang.
China, with a per capita forest coverage rate only one fifth of the world's average, is now making comprehensive conservation efforts including protecting natural forest, turning farmland into forest and banning commercial lumbering.
(Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2003)