The main organisations involved in the development and management of forest genetic resources are: The Department of Agriculture (Forest Service and Coford), Coillte, Teagasc and UCD.
The Forest Service has the main role in the regulation of the sector while the Coford Programme is funding research into broadleaf breeding, mass propagation techniques and molecular studies. These are being undertaken by a number of third level institutions and Teagasc. Coillte has a programme of conifer breeding with emphasis on Sitka spruce and also manages many of the seed stands, seed orchards and the National Tree Seed Centre.
A national strategy has been developed for forest genetic resources (FGR) by a team of national experts. The strategy recommends the establishment of a national Advisory Group to guide developments in the sector. It also recommends that organisations involved in FGR build on their strengths and develop skills and facilities as part of a national programme with defined objectives and targets and that existing FGR networks be formalised and a structured programme be developed under the guidance of the Advisory group.
Key issues that concern the FGR sector are:
- National coordination of activities
- Need for self-sufficiency in reproductive material
- Increased uptake of improved material
- Continuity of long-term funding
- Succession planning for FGR expertise.
There are two principal documents that provide information on the state of forest genetic resources in Ireland:
Sustaining and Developing Ireland’s Forest Genetic Resources – An outline strategy. Published 2007 by Coford, Dublin, Ireland.
Forest Genetic Resources in Ireland. Published 2012 by Coford, Dept. of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dublin, Ireland.
Further information is also available at the Coillte and Teagasc websites.