Forest Reproductive Material and Forest Tree Breeding

Suitable origin and good quality of forest reproductive material are essential in forest regeneration. Forest tree seedlings and seeds sold must be healthy and meet the quality criteria set for them.

The trade of forest reproductive material is regulated through the Act on Trade in Forest Reproductive Material implementing Council Directive 1999/105/EC on the marketing of forest reproductive material. The responsible supervising authority is the Finnish Food Authority.

The Natural Resources Institute Finland is responsible for forest tree breeding in Finland as its statutory duty. One of the foremost goal of the genetic improvement is the adaptation to climate change of future reforestation materials. In the southern part of the country the main commercial goal is improved volume growth of high quality timber whereas in northern Finland, the trait of highest importance is climatic hardiness, which in these circumstances also guarantees both good timber production and its high quality.

By using bred seed, a forest owner can achieve a 15–20 per cent growth increase in comparison with seed collected from a forest stand. Bred seed is produced in seed orchards. The foundation is based on the national seed orchard programme (2011) and it is financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The foremost aim of the national forest tree breeding and the national seed orchard programs is to ensure the availability of genetically improved and well adapted material for forest regeneration.

Commission's new regulation proposal

On 5 July 2023, the European Commission adopted a number of legislative proposals related to the Commission's package of measures for sustainable use of natural resources. They include the proposal for a Regulation on the production and marketing of forest reproductive material (COM(2023) 415 final), which would replace the Directive on the marketing of forest reproductive material (1999/105/EC). The Commission’s proposal maintains the main principles and terminology of the existing Directive. The Commission proposes that the Member States draw up a contingency plan to ensure the sufficiency of forest reproductive material in the event of extensive forest damages. The Commission also proposes that the Official Controls Regulation be applied in the sector in future. The relevant working party of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament will start discussing the proposal for the Regulation in more detail in summer and autumn 2023.

Related topics

Forest Management Practices

Related links

Act on Trade in Forest Reproductive Material (241/2002)
Forest tree seed and seedling production (Finnish Food Authority)
Finland’s forest genetic resources, use and conservation report is published (Natural Resources Institute Finland) 

Further information

Sanna Paanukoski, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Natural Resources Department, Unit for Forests and Bioenergy 0295162449