Breeding Programme

Breeding new forestry varieties

Breeding > Breeding for Forestry

Many seed provenances of most of the species of interest for SRF in the UK and Ireland are based on small populations of trees in the wild.

Some of these natural populations in Australia are vulnerable to bushfires and to the effects of changing climate, and many are within national parks and other protected areas. Collection of seed in commercial quantities is often not feasible, or is (rightly) not allowed, though with permission the collection of small samples of seed may be possible . Seed of most species can be sourced from planted stands of trees in Australia and elsewhere, but the genetic base of such stands is normally small, with many provenances of potential interest not represented.

Provenance testing, breeding and selection in the British Isles would improve the adaption of species to local conditions. This would offer opportunities to increase yields and improve tolerances to environmental limitations. There are numerous precedents for this, worldwide. For example, the eucalyptus forestry programme in south-west France is now largely based on selected E. gunnii x E. dalrympleana hybrids that are propagated by rooted cuttings

Prima Bio is undertaking a small project aimed at creating easily-rootable selections, including particular eucalyptus hybrids produced by controlled pollination, for evaluation for SRF. The objective is simply to show what may be possible, particularly in improving vigour while maintaining high cold-tolerance. An important element of the project is to identify selections that are very easy to root, as this will be essential in facilitating any commercialisation; initial results on this aspect are highly encouraging. The first selections from this programme were planted in trials in 2010.