Today, we have trial sites across the UK where we test material from carefully selected superior parent trees of seven species. Our researchers monitor their development over many years. Seed from the plus trees are planted out in replicated progeny trials to test the performance of the parents across many environments. They are assessed over several years, and the best performing individuals are retained in the breeding programme, and the poorer ones removed.
But it’s not just about the science. We also lobby the British forestry industries and hope to create a fundamental culture change within that sector towards planting of improved trees.
We have only three full-time members of staff, so our overheads are minimal but our research costs money. In 2019/20, we spent £191,752 on research.
Improved trees grow faster, produce better quality timber, improve final timber yields by up to 20%, will show better disease resistance and resilience, are likely to remain healthy for longer, be adapted to a changing climate and sequester more carbon.
So using improved trees will be the natural choice for anyone planting trees.
Grafted birch trees being grown on in a polytunnel in advance of being planted out