fbrc University of Florida University of Florida

Need for Research

In the near future forest land available for growing commercial wood in the southeastern United States will continue to diminish, while demand for products will increase.

aerial of southern pine plantationsThe American Forest and Paper Association's Agenda 2020 cites the need to "maximize fiber yields at low cost and minimize ecological impact". To achieve these goals, genetically-elite families, clones and hybrids produced by tree improvement and biotechnology programs will be planted and managed with intensive silvicultural systems.

There will be increasing pressures on the forest products industry from low cost wood producers in other countries and constraints resulting from environmental and social issues. Therefore, there is a pressing need to increase productivity of commercial forest plantations and to develop systems to sustain this high level of productivity.

The biological dynamics of intensively-managed forests containing genetically-elite material are poorly understood.

The Agenda 2020 recommends that "a concentrated effort is needed in the areas of ... tree physiology, plant genetics and the integration of genetics with silviculture to achieve fast-growing, disease-resistant, good form trees that produce high quality wood". Single-discipline, empirical studies aimed at one or a few factors are inefficient and often ineffective in furthering knowledge of these integrated dynamics. Integrated field studies, employing scientists from many disciplines, are imperative for the development of an understanding of the interactions of genetics, physiology, stand dynamics, growth strategies, pest management, nutrition and soils. Knowledge gained will be used to develop advanced forest management systems for the 21st century.

With these goals and philosophies firmly in place, the Forest Biology Research Cooperative was founded in 1996 at the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida. The FBRC's mission is to significantly increase productivity, maintain forest health and ensure sustainability of intensively-managed pine forest ecosystems in the southeastern United States. The primary focus is on the use of integrated, applied and intensively-studied field experiments designed to understand interactions and dynamics of genetics, pest management, silviculture, ecophysiology, nutrition and soils. Supportive laboratory and greenhouse studies, along with existing field studies, will also be used to achieve the mission.