Made-In-Singapore Trees To Increase Sustainability In Timber Industry

2013-2q-story3

Students from Yang Zheng Primary School planting a white teak (Gmelina arborea) tree in their school compound

Researchers at the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL) have engineered a method to rapidly reproduce naturally-selected elite tree candidate in an exponential process which can produce 1 million plant offsprings from a single parent plant in a year. These trees, created in Singapore, are tolerant to hot and dry spells and can grow in wastelands, making them ideal for reforestation and timber plantations.

“Deforestation remains as the critical issue for sustainable development,” explains a TLL spokesperson. “The impediments to using plantation trees that are grown from seeds through conventional methods stem from its unreliability and inconsistent yield, thus affecting returns from investment. Biotechnology can significantly reduce this ambiguity and in so doing, ensure a better take up rate of such trees by the industry.”

In 2006, a spin-off company, Bioforest was established to produce Made-in-Singapore trees commercially and to conduct further research on various tropical tree species. Their efforts resulted in an acquisition of Bioforest by a Singapore-listed entity.

As part of the Green Wave themed “International Year of Forest” in 2011, a global biological diversity campaign to educate the young on the importance of biodiversity, 100 Made-in-Singapore trees were planted in some 30 schools in Singapore. Apart from contributing shade and greenery, the trees serve as a reminder of how science can contribute to ecological and botanical sustainability.