UNDERSTANDING and modelling the processes of the wood formation of Eucalyptus trees is the focus of a newly announced research programme at Stellenbosch University.
Created by the Hans Merensky Foundation (HMF), the Hans Merensky Research Chair in Advanced Modelling of Eucalyptus Wood Formation is a 10-year contract that provides co-funding for new laboratory facilities and research equipment, as well as for a team of researchers and postgraduate students.
Lead researcher for the initiative, Dr David Drew, is the senior lecturer in SU’s Department of Forest and Wood Science (DFWS).
“The process by which trees form wood is of global significance and cannot be underestimated,” said Drew.
“Wood formation, technically known as xylogenesis, is fundamental to the fixing of carbon dioxide into the stable, valuable and beautiful material we call wood, and to the production of our increasingly important renewable timber resources.”
Merensky Timber said the initiative builds on the legacy of renowned scientist and philanthropist Dr Hans Merensky’s experimentation with Eucalyptus and would advance forestry training and research in South Africa.
The first group of postdoctoral students and fellows to be supported through the Chair is expected to start work in 2020.