British and Irish Hardwoods Improvement Programme
Project Team (Irish representatives)
Michael Carey (Forestry consultant), Sycamore group chairman
Pat Doody (Coillte), Ash group vice chairman
Gerry Douglas (Teagasc), Sycamore group member
John Fennessy (COFORD), Oak group chairman*
Derek Felton (Forestry consultant), Oak group member
Ted Horgan (Forestry consultant), Spanish chestnut group member
Elaine O'Connor (Teagasc), Birch group member
* Email: email@example.com
Completion Date: Long term improvement programmes, that will continue for the foreseeable future.
The British and Irish Hardwoods Trust (BIHT) was created in 2009 but has its origins in the British Hardwoods Improvement Programme (BHIP), which was formed in 1991. It is an informal association of landowners, nurserymen, forestry consultants, timber merchants and researchers in Ireland and the UK. Work is carried out through species groups for ash, birch, cherry, oak, Spanish chestnut, sycamore and walnut. The aim is to improve the form and quality of the species selected through reduced rotation length, increased volume, enhancing resistance to pests and diseases, and to ensure a broad genetic base in order to maintain resilience to future climate change. The method used is traditional selection and breeding. It gained charitable trust status about five years ago in the UK, and in Ireland in early 2009.
The programme operates through individual species groups with a central executive co-ordinating the programme. The objective is to improve the quality and productivity of the most important broadleaved species in Britain and Ireland by continuous improvement through conventional breeding programmes.
Plus tree selections are almost complete in most species, while earlier progeny/breeding seedling seed orchards in oak, cherry and ash are being assessed at regular intervals.
The first series of oak seedling seed orchards, of which there are eight, including one in Ireland, were measured during 2007/8. Results were published during 2008.
Limited seed production has commenced in the ash seedling seed orchards, and they are now due for roguing.
The birch indoor clonal orchards are producing adequate seed to supply demand in Scotland. Similar indoor orchards are being developed at Kinsealy by Teagasc. Commercial quantities of seed will be produced over the next couple of years.
A limited quantity of cherry seed became available from the BIHIP programme in 2009.
The collection of sycamore and Spanish chestnut selected clonal material for establishing seed orchards was also completed in 2009.
During 2008/09 the Irish element of the British and Irish Hardwoods Trust was established in Ireland. The purpose of the trust is to raise funds to finance the full development of the programme. During 2009, genetics advisor Dr David Boshier, Research Coordinator at BIHIP, worked on the development of breeding strategies for a number of the species, including ash and cherry. The development of the oak programme strategy is expected to be completed in early 2010.
A full review of BIHIP will take place in early 2010. The outcome of the review is expected to be published during 2010 and consideration of its implementation will be an important component of the annual general meeting to be held in the autumn.
The Management Committee will meet in Northern Ireland in May 2010, hosted by the Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute at Loughgall, Co Armagh.
Plans are well advanced for a new database on all BIHT plus trees and field trials identified in the programme across Ireland and the UK, It will provide a permanent record of this valuable breeding material for the first time. Plus trees will be listed by species, location, quality, sex, dimensions, and ownership. It will be continually updated as new plus trees are identified.
download 2008 report as pdf (pdf 53Kb)
Irish members of the species groups:
Michael Carey, Forestry consultant - Chairman of Sycamore Group
Pat Doody, Coillte - Vice Chairman of Ash Group
Gerry Douglas, Teagasc - Member of Sycamore Group
John Fennessy, COFORD - Chairman of Oak Group*
Derek Felton, Forestry consultant - Member of Oak Group
Ted Horgan, Coillte - Member of Spanish Chestnut Group
Elaine O'Connor, Teagasc - Member of Birch Group
* Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMPLETION DATE: These long term broadleaf improvement programmes will continue for the foreseeable future.
The British and Irish Hardwoods Improvement Programme was established as a result of the Royal Forestry Society's symposium on Tree Breeding and Improvement, at Edgbaston, UK, 1991. At this meeting a small group including John Davis (private nursery owner), Peter Savill and Peter Kanowski (both of Oxford Forestry Institute) decided to initiate work on improving ash. This led to the formation of the British Hardwoods Improvement Programme (BHIP). Ireland joined the group in 1998 and at the 1999 Annual General Meeting a new constitution was adopted establishing the British and Irish Hardwoods Improvement Programme (BIHIP).
The programme operates through individual species working groups with a central executive. There are seven individual species groups: oak, ash, birch, sycamore, cherry, Spanish chestnut and walnut. The objective of the programme is to improve the quality and productivity of these important broadleaved species in Britain and Ireland.
Progress is continuing with all aspects of the BIHIP programme. Plus tree selections are continuing in a number of species, particularly sycamore, ash and sweet chestnut. Earlier progeny/breeding seedling seed orchards in oak, cherry and ash are being monitored and assessed at regular intervals. The first series of oak seedling seed orchards was measured during 2007/8 and results published. Limited seed production has commenced in the ash breeding seedling seed orchards and these are now due for rouging. The birch indoor clonal orchards are producing adequate seed to supply the demand in Scotland after a very short time. Similar indoor orchards are being developed at Kinsealy by Teagasc. A limited quantity of cherry seed will be available from the BIHIP programme in 2009. Collection of sweet chestnut selected clonal material for establishing seed orchards will be completed in 2009.
The BIHIP website was upgraded and made more user-friendly. New management plans are being developed for a number of the species groups. During 2008 a fundraising trust - the British and Irish Hardwoods Trust - was established in Ireland. A similar trust has been in existence in Britain for a number of years. The purpose of the trusts is to raise funds to finance the full development of the British and Irish Hardwoods Improvement Programme in the future. During 2008 a part-time genetics advisor attached to the Oxford Forestry Institute was appointed to the programme as research co-ordinator and to assist in the development of breeding strategies for each species.
Broadleaved tree improvement is long term and the sourcing of funds to support the ongoing work is critical to the continuation of the programmes. The spring meeting will take place in April 2009 at Kinsealy Research Centre and the annual general meeting will be held in the UK in the autumn. The species groups have now produced performance plans and targets and the next stage is to implement these and to review and update breeding strategies during 2009.
Plans are well advanced for a new database on all BIHIP plus trees and field trials. This unique database will give the details and numbers of all the plus trees identified in the species, their locations, quality, sex, dimensions, owners etc. It will be added to as new plus trees are identified across the species range as the programme progresses.