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From Tree Improvement to Species Improvement: Restoration and Conservation

In the early 1990’s R8’s TI program shifted from traditional tree improvement to genetic resource management. Genetic diversity of each species became the priority. The program re-focused on meeting the seed needs for restoration of tree species within endangered ecosystems. More recently, as several pine and hardwood forest ecosystems have been decimated by exotic pests and diseases, genetic conservation has become a major emphasis of the program as well. Today R8’s Genetic Resource Management Program (GRMP) focuses on perpetuating biological & genetic diversity of tree species on the national forests. Current efforts target restoration and conservation of six conifer and six hardwood tree species. Ecosystem restoration, maintenance and sustainability on National Forest lands are long term commitments. Hence the GRMP continues to manage current species in the orchards, incorporate new species into the orchards and establish seed production areas out on national forests. Ensuring a stable supply of seed is critical for species’ perpetuation. The GRMP promotes species improvement, rather than tree improvement. The GRMP is engaged in several university, research and private partnerships to facilitate conservation and restoration efforts.

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Author(s): Barbara S. Crane

Publication: Tree Improvement and Genetics - Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference - 2005