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  1. Choosing suitably adapted seed sources has always been important in forestry. 
  2. In line with international sustainable forestry guidelines, the UK Forestry Standard encourages the use of local stock for planting native species, especially in existing and new native woodlands.
  3. FC Practice Note 8 set out a labelling system for identifying local stock for planting native species throughout Britain, especially in semi-natural and new native woodlands. It introduced a map of seed zones based on a climatic and geological subdivision of provenance regions.
  4. The Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) Regulations, 2002 provide a regulatory framework throughout the UK, which is mandatory for marketing some native species and can be extended to others as required. It allows users to specify and identify the sources and types of planting material.

FCS policy for sourcing planting material for natice species of trees and shrubs:

  1. The sourcing of planting stock should help achieve both the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources, in accordance with the UK's international commitments.
  2. FCS will promote the availibility and use of planting stock that will:
    • be both fit for purpose and ecologiacally adapted to the planting site;
    • maintain or enhance both genetic adaption/fitness of our tree and shrub populations, and their capacity to adapt to changing environmental conditions;
    • sustain sufficient genetic variation to provide for future uses of trees for all purposes;
    • help to maintain and restore natural genetic processes in tree populations, especially gene flow and natural selection;
    • help conserve patterns of the genetic structure of tree populations that reflect their evolutionary history

Some essential definitions:

1. Definition of Basic Material:

Basic Material is the plant material from which the Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) is derived and includes seed stands, seed orchards, parent material held by tree breeders in archives, individual clones and mixtures of clones.

There are six types of basic material:

  • Seed sources: This covers all material from a single tree to any collection of trees within a region of provenance or seed zone.
  • Stands: Specifically identified areas or groups of trees with identified boundaries
  • Seed orchards: Sources based upon known individuals derived from tree breeding
  • Parents of families: Sources based upon known individuals derived from tree breeding
  • Clones: Individually identified trees from which the FRM will be produced through vegetative propagation
  • Clonal mixtures: Individually identified trees from which the FRM will be produced through vegetative propagation

2. Categories of reproductive material:

Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) is cones, fruits and seeds, all parts of plants obtained by vegetative propagation, including embryos and plants produced from any of these.  Normally, only FRM that comes from registered basic material can be marketed.

There are four categories of reproductive material according to the basic material from which it is collected:

  • Source identified FRM: Comes from general or specific locations within a single region of provenance or seed zone altitude band in which no specific superior qualities are recognised.
  • Selected FRM: Collected from stands showing superior characteristics, e.g. better form, growth rate and health. (Criteria for acceptance of basic material into this category)
  • Qualified FRM: Derives from the selection of superior individual trees which have not undergone any form of testing.
  • Tested FRM: Derives from the selection of individual trees or stands that have undergone evaluation for genetic quality or have been shown to be superior, in comparison to accepted standards

3. Regions of Provenance:

Great Britain is divided into four Regions of Provenance. These are defined areas within which similar ecological and climatic characteristics are found.  They provide a framework for specifying sources of Forest Reproductive Material (FRM).

For native species, these Regions of Provenance have been split into a total of 24 non-statutory native seed zones.  Seed zones are in turn divided where appropriate into two altitude zones, below 300m and above 300m.

There is a different set of seed zones for native Scots Pine.

4. Definitions of Origin and Provenance:

The origin of FRM describes that part of the natural range of the species from which the material originally derived. The term provenance is used to describe the location of the source from which the reproductive material was collected.