Forest genetics research in the Pacific Northwest began in the early 20th century with the establishment of the Douglas-Fir Heredity Study and the Wind River Arboretum. These early studies led to preference for native species for refoestation, and the delineation of seed collection guidelines and seed zones in the 1940s. The 1950s saw an increased interest in forest genetics and tree improvement as increased harvests led to an interest in production forestry and potential gains from applied genetics. Later decades saw the growth of tree improvement programs and the formation of cooperatives, including increased interest in seed orchard research. A major milestone was the development of graft compatible Douglas-fir rooting stock by Don Copes at the Pacific Northwest Research Station. Other forest genetics research focused on population genetics and geographic variation in adaptive traits. We are now entering a new age, the age of genomics. Complete genome sequences are now available for many important forest trees, new markers are available, and we can now directly study the expression of genets that confer adaptation to climate, disease resistance, and increased growth. The past 100 years has seen enormous progress in our understanding of forest genetics and our ability to breed trees. The future will bring even greater challenges including climate change, the introduction of new pests, and greater demands for natural resources.
St. Clair, Brad; Howe, Glenn. 2017. Building on a century of forest genetics research. Western Forester. 2 p. 16-17.