BAM: Improving forest genetics

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In general, forest plantations of native species developed in Peru do not have a controlled origin, that is, the provenance of the seeds used for their establishment is unknown. This results in individuals (trees) with a great variability of characteristics (height, diameter, number of branches, straightness, etc.) that, in many cases, are not the most adequate for achieving standardization and optimum productivity to implement a commercial forest plantation.

On the other hand, at the technical level, scientific research on the characteristics, evolution and progress of native species in Peru has not yet been developed or studied at the levels of other commercial species worldwide, which opens an opportunity to enhance the value of native species internationally.

In BAM’s case, more than 17 years of experience in research on native species has allowed the company to accumulate a genetic capital of more than one million trees developed from the selection of the best specimens from multiple origins in the Peruvian Amazon. Capitalizing on the genetic material acquired and with a view to increasing the value of the forest and the productivityof its plantations (up to 30%), BAM has developed a cutting-edge forestry genetic improvement program in collaboration with the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica (TEC), one of the world’s leading institutions in the cloning of forestry species. This program consists of cloning the best quality individuals: taller, thicker, healthier and straighter trees, which have the ability to grow quickly without major difficulty and with good resistance to pests.

BAM genetic material

As part of the reforestation design process, the selection of native species to work with was fundamental. This selection was the result of an exhaustive investigation of the environment, soils and vegetation in the area, considering the interaction and behavior of the selected species in relation to others (growth and survival).

The seeds were sourced from trees in native forests and conservation areas with similar ecosystems; duly selected for their superior characteristics and maintaining the diversification of origin. The BAM team ensured that the seedlings were traceable from their place of origin to the point of final establishment: each tree from which seeds were collected was documented and geo-referenced using GPS.

The rigorous quality of the seeds and the wide variety of collection allowed BAM to be a pioneer in obtaining, on a large scale, valuable genetic material of native species of high commercial value.

Program implementation

Following the model designed under the advice of TEC, BAM has initiated the genetic improvement program with native species such as marupa and shihuahuaco. Throughout the years, BAM has been conducting research on the development of these species and analyzing the growth of the trees in its plantations, making a careful selection of individuals from different origins according to their behavior to various stimuli such as: soils, types of cover, planting density, pest resistance, companion species, etc.

As a result, BAM has successfully selected more than 400 plus individuals that have the outstanding characteristics necessary for a plantation to obtain the expected yields: higher yields (m³/ha) for the benefit of the planet, the organization and the community in its area of influence. The process will continue until selecting those specimens that will form the genetic base for the cloning process.

Currently, BAM is developing trials and pilot tests, as well as protocols for optimal propagation (cloning). The process consists of inducing plus trees to generate shoots that have the capacity to form roots. By performing specialized cutting techniques on the main layers of the trunk, the passage of fluids is interrupted in order to obtain shoots that are later taken and worked in the nursery under the highest technological standards.

As part of the Forest Genetic Improvement Program, BAM has built a high-tech nursery for the production of genetically superior clones in a protected environment, with a total production capacity of one million plants per season. The purpose of the nursery is to supply BAM’s operations with genetically superior seedlings. Excess production will be sold to third parties (forestry companies, local governments, among others).

The Forest Genetic Improvement Program being implemented by BAM will allow the company to continue scaling up restoration efforts in degraded areas with commercial forestry plantations of high quality native species and higher productivity per hectare.

This will also allow BAM to promote the development of reforestation programs, in coordination with authorities and civil associations, with the goal of recovering large extensions of degraded areas, which in turn could be included in the carbon sequestration programs developed by the company.

Furthermore, it will allow the company to provide top-quality genetic material for the use and benefit of third parties, promoting the development of high-value native species to foster the development of Peru’s forestry sector.

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