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U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Genetic Resource Management

Shortleaf pine seed orchard. Seed orchard on the Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas.

Providing seed for reforestation and restoration is one of the major goals of the Forest Service’s Genetic Program. The program has resulted in about 70 highly productive seed orchards of many species developed through selection, breeding and testing. These seed orchards cover over 25,000 acres, and include species such as Douglas fir, western larch, western white pine, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, white fir, eastern white pine, shortleaf pine, longleaf pine, slash pine, and whitebark pine have been established. These seed orchards are providing locally adapted, genetically diverse, and in some cases disease resistant, seed for re-vegetation activities on national forests, and hence contributing to successes in current restoration, reforestation and fire recovery efforts

The program also conserves forest tree genetic material (primarily through the collection and long-term storage of seed or other appropriate material) before valuable resources are lost because of climate change, pest and diseases, wildfire and other natural disasters. The agency is working on over 100 species, including non-commercial conifer and hardwood tree species, native grasses and forbs.

The program is leading the development of populations of trees with resistance to insects and diseases. Development of disease/insect resistant growing stock is the one of the best tools land managers can use to deal with increased disease and insect pressures. These pressures are increasing with time as new pests are introduced to the US and a changing climate is altering host-pathogen relationships. The program is helping to ensure long-term success for restoration activities now and into the future.

The Forest Service’s genetic resource management program is guided by the USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan: 2015-2020.