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GenTree - Optimizing the management and sustainable use of forest genetic resources

 

GenTree aims at providing the European forestry sector with better knowledge, methods and tools for optimizing the management and sustainable use of forest genetic resources in Europe in the context of climate change and continuously evolving demands for forest products and services.

 

Background

In the context of climate change and continuously evolving demands for forest products and services, the goal of GenTree is to provide the European forestry sector with better knowledge, methods and tools for management and sustainable use of forest genetic resources (FGR) in Europe. GenTree will improve the status of European in-situ and ex-situ FGR conservation efforts, support acquisition, conservation, characterization, evaluation and use of relevant FGR in breeding and forestry practice and policy.

Objectives

The project will design innovative strategies for dynamic conservation of FGR in European forests based on two aspects:

  • improved phenotypic and genotypic characterization of important European forest tree species across their European range
  • predicted adaptive responses to environmental changes.

Furthermore, it will broaden the range of FGR used by European breeding programmes, currently restricted to a few commercial tree species. Finally, it will elaborate new forest management scenarios and policy frameworks that fully integrate genetic conservation and breeding aspects to adapt forests and forestry to changing environmental conditions and societal demands.

Investigated species

GenTree focuses on twelve economically and ecologically important tree species in Europe, growing in a wide range of habitats and covering different societal uses and values. The following taxa are considered (species occurring in Switzerland in bold

  • Conifers: Abies alba, Picea abies, Pinus cembra, Pinus halepensis, Pinus nigra, Pinus pinaster, Pinus sylvestris, Taxus baccata
  • Broad-leaved: Betula pendula, Fagus sylvatica, Populus nigra, Quercus petraea

Major outputs

  • New scientific knowledge on phenotypic and genotypic diversity in twelve major tree species across environmental gradients in Europe.
    Improved monitoring tools for practitioners based on genotyping and phenotyping.
    Updated and refined data for information systems of in situ and ex situ FGR collections.
  • Innovative strategies for conservation and breeding, exchanging and using diversified forest reproductive material.
  • Novel outreach and science-policy support tools to better integrate FGR concerns into forest management and better implement relevant international commitments in Europe.
 

The role of WSL

As the Swiss partner in the consortium, WSL strongly contributes to work packages 1, 3 and 4. In particular, the WSL research teams Ecological Genetics and Dendro-Sciences are primarily engaged in

  • sampling and phenotyping in Swiss forest sites according to the project design
  • assessing tree rings and wood anatomy (all taxa)
  • analyzing population genetic and genomic data (primarily Quercus petraea, Pinus cembra)

Engagement of stakeholders

GenTree will actively promote the dialogue with various stakeholders (policymakers, forest managers and forest owners, European Forest Genetic Resources Programme EUFORGEN). This will ensure that research directly responds to demand and that research findings influence policies and contribute to sustainable use of forests and their genetic resources.