Common beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) is an important tree species of Europe, mainly western and Central Europe. It has been gradually reduced in its area already since the middle ages, mainly due to agriculture, but also forestry. Often foresters have replaced beech forests by pure conifer stands like Norway spruce.,Beech forests were regenerated mainly naturally, while planting was not common. Because Common Agriculture Policy results in the abandoning of large areas of agricultural lands, much of this land is to be forested. From the soil and climate index often beech is best suited.
Techniques of replanting beech on open abandoned agricultural lands have failed frequently because of adverse soil conditions (due to agricultural soil management) and missing protection by a tree canopy. Also, a suitable provenance has to be chosen because at a given'site no trees of the original adapted provenance are left. Beech is and will be increasingly used to stabilise pure coniferous stands by intermixing this tree species. For both, forestation on open farmland and intermixing of conifer stands, techniques are not available to ensure successful forestation at reasonable prices. Another problem is intermittent seed production of beech with 4-8 years elapsing between seed sets. This makes reproductive material of beech a precious commodity.
Therefore it is important to prolong its storability from the present maximum time of about 5 years while maintaining viability of the seeds.
Objectives of the proposal are: (1) Improvement of methods for procurement of reproductive material, (2) development of efficient forestation methods, and (3) study of the genetic variation and adaptedness of beech provenances to be able to select highly qualified and adapted reproductive material for the various sites to forested.
With these objectives the proposal fits under three areas of the FAIR Programme: "increase of productivity and quality [of forest raw materials] through selection and breeding" (188.8.131.52), "Adaptation of forests to climatic changes, biodiversity, productivity,' (4.5.3), and "systems, techniques and plant supply for afforestation" as well as "breeding and genetic improvement for increment, quality, and resistance" (4.5.4).
The proposal is divided into four Tasks: (1) Seed (cryo-) storage, plant production, forestation techniques, and genetic structure of artificial vs. natural stands, (2) Genetic variation of adaptive traits, frost and shade tolerance, abiotic factors and morphological traits (3) Geographic variation of molecular genetic (cpDNA) markers in beech and implications, and (4) Genetic variation among provenances, long term consequences for forestation. Each of the Tasks would be managed by a Task coordinator. New methods and techniques would be applied: cryo-preservation for germplasm (seed) storage, plug-containers for beech plant production, advanced silvicultural techniques, new types of growth chambers for adaptability studies, including a shade hall, modern tree architectural modelling approach, application of molecular biology to study genetic markers, use of llkriging technique" to demonstrate genetic variation over the geographic distribution and develop a prediction model for provenance growth. With the plant material, from national and international provenance field trials, and material from collections of the "EU-Concerted Action Beech Network", available to different partners of the project, an extensive and reliable material base has been established. It is planned to share material in the different analyses to reach a high information level by correlating parameters of the different characters observed for genetic improvement of beech forestation programmes.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
540 06 Thessaloniki
6700 AA Wageningen