Plants are not limited by borders

22 scientists from six countries investigate on seed transfer in Central Europe

The Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW) starts an international project promoting climate change adaptation of forest ecosystems. Eight partner institutions from six countries of Central Europe share their expertise in the SUSTREE project, to enable transnational management of forest genetic resources. 

Central Europe’s major tree species are under pressure as a changing climate is expected to modify the species composition of our forest ecosystems. This brings new challenges and offers new opportunities. To sustain the forests’ ecological and economic functions, adaptive silvicultural practices are required that make use of alternative tree species, species mixtures and the full adaptive capacity of our Central-European trees. The utilization of seed material from warmer regions of the tree species distribution is expected to buffer forest stability against global temperature increase.  

Plants are not limited by national boarders 
National boundaries are poor descriptors of tree species distributions and their local adaptation. Instead, adaptive genetic variation follows topographical structures and climate zones. Thus, the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE-project SUSTREE brings together experts on forest provenance research and breeding from Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Objective of the transnational cooperation is to identify endangered genetic diversity and to discuss cross-boundary seed transfer to use the best genetic material fit for climate change in the forests of Central Europe.  

Trend-setting solutions 
Close collaboration with forest enterprises ensures real-time implementation of the research project outcomes. Tools and apps for practitioners will be developed, based on models of the adaptive capacity of trees and their seed provenances. Transnational seed recommendation schemes in climate change are expected to support forest nurseries and orchards to adapt to the new climatic situation. The aim is to demonstrate promising strategies for adaptive management of forests, building on transnational seed transfer regulations.   

Silvio Schüler and his team of the department for forest genetics (BFW) are leading the project and are in charge of the work package communication.

spruce seedlings
© BFW