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NordGen Forest Conference in Riga 2015

Nordic-Baltic efforts for wise use of forest material

Wise use of forest reproductive material (FRM) was the topic as the NordGen Forest and the EFINORD-SNS Nordic Network of Forest Regeneration invited for a Nordic-Baltic forest conference in Riga on 15-16 September 2015.

Excursion_Riga_pine_Kaspars Liepins

Āris Jansons and Dagnija Lazdiņa - both LSFRI Silava at the excursion to the Riga pine forest. Photo: Kaspars Liepins

What does it mean; wise use of FRM? The speakers introduced the topic from breeding of improved forest material via planting and silviculture to the use of forest and deliverance to industry. In addition the use of forest tree species was discussed from an historical viewpoint, taking the audience all the way back to Eocene, more than 50 million years ago.

Sustainable breeding
The forestry sector needs to meet many demands in the future. In the context of climate change sustainable production of forests and carbon sequestration are obvious, but also conserving biodiversity, including genetic diversity.

The breeding programs in the Nordic countries are now entering the 2nd generation seed orchards, Arne Steffenrem from the Norwegian Seed Centre explained. This means that the seed orchards will be able to produce seed which will increase the yield by 25-30 %. But it is also important to decide how much genetic variation is needed in the breeding population, to make sure that the Nordic countries are not only producing the best material for genetic gain and adaptation, but also for evolution and future viable and resilient forests. Development of indicators for sound breeding was mentioned as one means to achieve this. However, as Darius Danusevicius (Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Lithuania) pointed out, the genetic diversity may also be low in patches of natural forest stands. In just one generation, the use of seed trees may cause a stand to go from a mixed structure to clustering of relatives, he claimed.

Choice of species in the context of climate change
Also the choice of tree species will be important for the Nordic-Baltic forestry. Finn Borchsenius from Århus University in Denmark took the audience back to Eocene, and presented the list of plant genus which have gone extinct in Europe during glaciations. Due to climate and geographic conditions, certain tree species never succeeded in reentering north of Europe. Still some of these plants may be found in refugia south of the Alps, but never managed to reoccupy Europe. The species are considered as alien species in our region today, although they have a common history here. It is all a question of how far back in time we look, and reintroduction of some of these species may be important to cope with climate change?

Riga_group photo_whole group_K Liepins

70 participants took part in the Conference in Riga, Latvia.

On the other hand, the topic “choice of species” also questions which native species to include in forestry production. Conifers are predominant in the Nordic-Baltic region. In Finland, however, birch has grown to be an important species in the country, and Karolina Niemi explained that even though there are quite some production (2/3 of distribution to saw mills are native birch), there is still a lack of native birch for industry. Production of broadleaves is important for biodiversity, forest health and vitality, for certification and for adaptation to climate change, she continued, but for production and industrial purposes it is important not to mix species to much at the stand level, but rather to consider planting the different species in separate stands. Birch are nurtured in green houses in Finland, and breeding work has been ongoing since the 1970-ties, Sirkku Pöykkö (LUKE) pointed out in her speech.

All Nordic and Baltic countries
The 14 speeches given at the conference created good discussions during the day. 70 participants from all the Nordic and Baltic countries took part in the conference, which was concluded with an excursion to the Riga pine forest, a nursery and some broadleaves stands.

For program and presentations given at the conference, please click here.