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Genetic conservation activities protect the gene pool needed for species to adapt to future environmental conditions, and ensure that genetic resources are maintained for future generations.
During 2000/01, a 7-year Genetic Conservation Plan was initiated with the inauguration of the Centre for Forest Conservation Genetics (CFCG) at UBC. The CFCG will bring together expertise on forest genetics and conservation to explore issues in genetic conservation, develop conservation strategies, evaluate needed versus current levels of protection of genetic diversity, and carry out fundamental research on genetic diversity in native species. The Centre will also advise the FGC on specific matters relating to the conservation of genetic diversity in British Columbia’s forests.
Tree breeding activities include selecting parents in wild stands, propagating, testing offspring, mating, establishing/maintaining/measuring trials, and delivering technical support. The Tree Breeding Subprogram includes applied genecology to support the information needs of SPU programs as described in Species Plans. FGC Interior and Coastal TACs and associated Species Committees carry out planning for the subprogram. The MFR Research Branch manages and undertakes subprogram activities.
The OTIP Subprogram focuses on increasing the quality and quantity of Class A seed produced from existing forest company and MFR seed orchards. It also provides technical support for orchard production and management, including pest management.
OTIP spending is based on Species Plans—projects are developed through calls-for-proposals based on Species Plans priorities. FGC Review Committees rank all proposals against FGC objectives and SPU priorities, based on technical merit, impact, value, and cost. The total budget allocation for OTIP is recommended by the FGC to FIA administrators in the Ministry of Forests.
The Forest Investment Account Tree Improvement Program supports seed orchard expansions and the cooperative production of vegetative materials through SelectSeed Company Ltd. , a company wholly owned by the B.C. Forest Genetics Society. SelectSeed’s primary mandate is to support seed orchard expansions needed to meet FGC objectives.
SelectSeed’s Business Plan and investments are based on the long-term and annual business plans prepared by FGC TACs and Species Committees. Orchard development agreements are long-term contracts that give stability for investment and management. The FGC annually reviews and approves the SelectSeed Business Plan.
The Extension and Communication Subprogram supports FGC goals and objectives through extension, communication, and education activities. The FGC Extension Technical Advisory Committee (ETAC), which includes representatives from government and industry seed orchards, forest companies, seed dealers, academia, researchers, and consultants, prepares an annual activity plan to guide subprogram activities. The plan shapes an annual call for proposals. The ETAC reviews and ranks proposed projects based on FGC communication goals and priority messages and target audiences. The MFR Tree Improvement Branch, on behalf of the FGC, administers extension and communication contracts.
FGC program communications focus on activities pertinent to the provincial forest genetic resource management program, such as the preparation of annual and strategic plans, reports, and brochures; development and maintenance of the FGC Web site; and production of TICtalk, Council’s periodic newsletter. The FGC Secretariat carries out these program-level communication activities.
FGC cooperators undertake a range of, extension, communication, and education activities based on an annual activity plan and call for proposals.
The Gene Resource Information Management Subprogram (GRIM) undertakes the development of forest tree genetic resource planning, best practices and conservation. GRIM activities and budgets are developed by the Seed Information Systems Steering Committee (SISSC).
The SISSC is comprised of MFR Tree Improvement Branch staff, MFR systems staff, industry representatives, and the FGC Program Manager. Projects are identified by the Committee, developed by Tree Improvement Branch staff and presented to the FGC for approval. Approved projects are recommended to the FGC for inclusion in the annual FGC Business Plan. Tree Improvement Branch staff administer the GRIM Subprogram.
Two information systems development projects are in progress: SPAR (Seed Planning and Registration System) Web Conversion and SeedMap. A new project will be initiated in 2002/03 to incorporate genetic resource management (GRM) into the existing management unit/landscape unit framework. This will allow consideration of GRM at the landscape level, and will support GRM under the new Results Based Code.
SeedMap will allow direct access to seed planning maps and summary reports, giving clients the tools to assess current and projected seed needs, develop appropriate cone collection and seed supply access plans, identify areas for orchard expansion, and carry out sound forest practices. SeedMap will also make it possible for clients to integrate seed planning and tree improvement information (spatial and other) with resource management initiatives such as land use planning, timber supply reviews, integrated silviculture planning, and forest certification programs.
The Administration Subprogram provides administrative, financial, monitoring, and reporting services to the FGC.
The Administration Subprogram has two components: the administrative infrastructure provided by the MFR for the Tree Breeding, OTIP, Extension and Communication, and genetic Resource Information Management subprograms, the FGC Executive Secretariat that supports Council’s day-to-day business, communication, meetings, correspondence, and planning activities.
The FGC Executive Secretariat, whose services are contracted out through competitive bidding, supports Council’s day-to-day business and planning activities. In 2000/01, these services included support to four Council meetings and several TAC meetings, representation of Council at two professional meetings, and ongoing assistance with issues management.
Research is an important activity of various components of the FGC forest genetic resource management program.
Strategic and Business Planning
The multistakeholder FGC sets strategic objectives for the provincial forest genetic resource management program. Coastal and Interior Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) lay the groundwork for a business plan to achieve Council's objectives and maximize the economic benefits from tree improvement.
Business planning involves:
Many participants shape the provincial forest genetic resource management program. In broad terms, Ministry of Forests and Range leads tree breeding and genetic conservation activities, and private industry leads operational production of reforestation materials. The Canadian Forest Service, MFR Research Branch, and universities undertake research supporting tree improvement, while private institutions focus on applied research related to operational production.
In March 1999, Council approved the establishment of SelectSeed Ltd. to expedite increasing the production and delivery of genetically improved seed and vegetative material.
Forest genetic resource management is cooperatively funded by the Forest Investment Account Tree Improvement Program, the Ministry of Forests, and private industry.
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