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Adaptive tree breeding strategies and tools for forest production systems resilient to climate change and natural disturbances

Proposals should aim to develop novel tree breeding strategies and tools aimed at sustained yields (wood and non-wood products), while addressing resilience to climate change and natural disturbances (including pests and disease outbreaks), and considering biodiversity-related aspects. Proposals will aim to identify/develop genotypes with appropriate adaptation profiles for possible extension/change of tree species range, both vertically and horizontally, including those genotypes with potential for use on marginal land. Coniferous and broadleaved species that are of specific importance for forestry and ecosystem services EU-wide should be targeted. Compliance with biosafety and other relevant legislation (e.g. biodiversity and invasive alien species) should be taken into account. Complementarity with previous (FP7/LIFE) projects and COST actions should also be considered.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Climate change and associated natural disturbances will increasingly influence the current distribution and productivity of tree species, within the constraints of physical barriers, long production cycles and regulations on forest reproductive materials. They will also affect the areas in which trees of different species and provenance could grow, or grow better, in the future. Assisted migration of tree species from one region (or continent) to another has contributed to increased wood production in Europe in recent centuries. Though there are examples of good practice and benefits of genetic variation, there is still limited evidence of the inherent genotypic/phenotypic plasticity of tree species and provenances, and their symbionts, to adapt rapidly enough and survive the current pace of environmental change. To counteract climate-induced decline and maintain/enhance forest productivity and meet the growing needs of society and the bioeconomy, we may enhance the resilience of forests through the selection/development of new genotypes, through traditional methods of genome sequencing and selection of desired traits and/or novel methods of genome improvement.

To counteract climate change, maintain and enhance forest productivity and the sustainability of forestry systems, proposals should show how some, or all, of the following impacts will be achieved:

  • direct technical support for forest managers on the choice of tree species and provenances to increase stress tolerance to underlying environmental change and meet increasing societal demands on forest goods and services;
  • better understanding of benefits and risks related to the economic performance of wood-value chains and the environmental effects of the enhanced use of novel biotechnologies.