Eucalypt research scientist

About This Project

Today, there are 4.5 million hectares of eucalypts planted in China. Whilst these account for just 6.5% of the country’s forest plantations, these Australian trees produce around 30% of China’s domestic timbers and provide livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of Chinese.


The commercial success of eucalypts in China isn’t just good luck, it’s come about through over 35 years of sustained collaborative R&D between Australia and China and the dedication of many Chinese and Australian professionals.


My own contributions to the success of eucalypts in China started in 1994. As a young CSIRO scientist, I visited China tasked with providing scientific support to the Chinese Academy of Forestry’s fledgling China Eucalypt Research Centre; an institute established several years earlier as a collaborative Chinese-Australian project.


In China I saw huge potential for eucalypt plantation R&D to make substantial positive impacts. In my Chinese counterparts – who quickly became great friends – I recognised optimism, enthusiasm and tremendous energy, as well as an admirable ability to enjoy their work. This lead me to visiting China countless times to work on various projects, including developing cold-tolerant eucalypt species for cooler regions of southern provinces, and improving productivity of varieties grown in warmer regions.


In 2006, I seized an opportunity to live fulltime in China and work for a eucalypt plantation company in Fujian, and to put much of our R&D into commercial practice. Living and working in southern Fujian was wonderful; their culture, landscapes, lifestyles and, especially, their love of tea were powerfully alluring to me. But in early 2009, I moved to Zhanjiang in southwestern Guangdong to become a full-time research scientist at the China Eucalypt Research Centre.


In the more than 20 years since I first visited China, the rise of the country’s eucalypt industry has been truly remarkable – to not only witness this first hand, but also to have helped my ever-optimistic Chinese colleagues contribute to its remarkable growth and success has been incredibly satisfying.


Roger Arnold is a research scientist at the China Eucalypt Research Centre, Zhangjiang, Guangdong Province.

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