It is clear that if more research into tree breeding could be commissioned, the returns would be considerable. At the same time, failure to invest in tree breeding may have a negative effect and result in our forests becoming less diverse and more vulnerable to adverse biotic and abiotic change.
We cannot afford to stand still.
The NTIS proposes that the time is right to combine forces across all interested parties – public, private, and charities; seed merchants, nursery and forest managers, wood processors, academics and others – and look at the whole of UK tree improvement in a more holistic and strategic way. Together these parties will work in a collegiate and integrated manner to develop and deliver the National Tree Improvement Strategy.
Right now forestry in Britain is in expansive mode as governments realise the benefits tree can bring in mitigating climate change. It is important those trees are well suited to the site and climate both at time of planting and over the duration of its growth. Those same trees will also have to be resilient to any new diseases that come along, whilst it is important that the timber from those trees is fit for purpose and helps displace the use of concrete and metal. More than ever, tree breeding and genetic diversity is highly important.