Strategic Plan 2016 – 2021
The Alberta Forest Genetic Resources Council (Council) was established by the Government of Alberta in the year 2000, to assist the government in fulfilling its forest stewardship mandate. The Council was formed on the basis of a detailed framework that was developed by experts from the provincial government, the forest industry and the academic community. Members of Council are appointed by the Executive Director, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Forest Management Branch, for either a five-year or two-year term.
Today, with diverse representation from the scientific community, government, industry, nursery, reclamation and biodiversity sectors, Council members meet to discuss and debate how to maintain natural plant genetic diversity within Alberta’s forested areas. Council also develops advice on how to increase productivity in forest growth and yield, improve wood quality, and implement sound reclamation practices through the improved management of forest genetic resources.
Maintaining natural genetic diversity provides the evolutionary capacity of forest (ecosystem resilience and health) to adapt to a variety of stressors, including climate change, pests, diseases and fire. Ecosystem resilience and health are also key to achieving sustainable forest management, ensuring that forest resources provide Alberta with sustainable economic, ecological and socio-cultural benefits.
Alberta is committed to achieving sustainable forest management through various agreements, including A Vision for Canada’s Forests: 2008 and Beyond, agreed to by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. The conservation of Alberta’s biodiversity and sustainable use of its biological resources is also required with Canada’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), commitments that are reaffirmed in the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy (1996).
The mandate of the Alberta Forest Genetic Resources Council is to:
Provide advice and recommendations to the Government of Alberta on policy, standards and regulations related to the management and conservation of Alberta’s forest genetic resources.
To achieve Council’s mandate it:
- Fosters communication, dialogue and technology transfer among stakeholders and participants in forest genetics research, management and conservation on public forests in Alberta.
- Encourages an inter-disciplinary approach to forest genetic resource management and conservation.
- Identifies and addresses issues of concern related to the management and conservation of forest genetic resources in Alberta, through knowledge gap analysis, cooperative research facilitation and the hosting of workshops, conferences and seminars.
Excellence in the management and conservation of forest genetic resources in Alberta.
To advise, influence, facilitate and promote policy, networking and partnerships for the management and conservation of Alberta’s forest genetic resources by:
- Providing government counsel on all forest genetic resource matters.
- Promotion of partnerships and networking among all stakeholders.
- Fostering research and education at provincial, national and international levels.
The goal of the Council is to establish and foster a sound foundation for the management and conservation of forest genetic resources through advice to the Government of Alberta on forest genetic resources matters.
The Council`s goal is based on the following four principles:
- Improved productivity: Increased growth and yield will accrue through operational tree improvement programs.
- Adaptation: Biological suitability to site and climate is essential.
- Genetic diversity: Natural variation is crucial to ecosystem resilience and health.
- Conservation: Alberta’s forest gene pool is a heritage resource.
THE COUNCIL`S STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
The Council, in 2016, agreed to focus its efforts over the next 3 or more years on the following Strategic Priorities. The list of Strategic Priorities is not in any order of priority – all Strategic Priorities are of equal importance.
- STRATEGIC PRIORITY: GENE CONSERVATION
Rationale: to provide recommendations to the Government of Alberta on gene conservation to ensure genetic diversity is maintained for Alberta’s native forest plants.
Mechanism: Establish a Gene Conservation Technical Advisory Committee
- Assess the need for collection and long-term storage of seeds and other genetic material for all of Alberta’s forest plant species at risk and linked to climate change and industrial development
- Provide advice on preserving genetic diversity of tree species (prioritize trees versus other plants)
- Provide advice to Council to promote and advance implementation of the Gene Conservation Plan for Native Alberta Trees 2009
- Provide advice to Council to promote implementation of recovery plans for ‘at risk’ native Alberta forest plant species located on public lands
- Assess climate change adaptation: assess the need to undertake research, establish collections and improve operations in support of climate change adaptation
- Identify or develop best practices and expert reports; identifying knowledgeable persons that could further contribute to ensure genetic diversity is maintained for Alberta forest native plants
- Provide any other advice to ensure genetic diversity is maintained for Alberta’s forest native plants
- STRATEGIC PRIORITY: PRODUCTIVITY AND PROVINCIAL TREE IMPROVEMENT TARGETS
Rationale: Enhance productivity using forest genetic resources management in light of fibre requirements, now and in the future.
Mechanism: Establish an Ad Hoc Committee on Provincial Productivity and Tree Improvement Targets
- Assist the Council to facilitate setting tree improvement targets and consider any required incentives
- Assess capacity needs and incentive needs, geographic coverage of the province (need for an integrated coverage approach), what are the trade-offs
- Inform the Council of tree valuation research and needs
- Set targets for i) genetic gain by year or minimum gain per species ii) improved seed deployment (area by year or % reforestation)
- Provide recommendations to the Council for development of a seed information system
- Plan for future seed needs (Stream 1 and 2)
- Demonstrate enhanced wood supply (Annual Allowable Cut) for Alberta’s forest sector through deployment of “forest genetic resources”.
- STRATEGIC PRIORITY: GENETICS AND TREE BREEDING
Rationale: To foster a unified approach in research and operational activities in forest genetics and tree improvement across the province.
Mechanism: Establish a Genetics and Tree Breeding Technical Advisory Committee
The Genetics and Tree Breeding Technical Advisory Committee will provide recommendations to the Council aimed at fostering a unified approach in research and operational activities in forest genetics and tree improvement across the province (government, private sector and others). This will include recommending research and operations in all important areas, such as:
- Climate change adaptation
- Insect and disease resistance breeding
- Genetic gain enhancement
- Realized gain trials and verification
- Other areas identified by the Genetics and Tree Breeding Technical Advisory Committee
- Providing any other advice in relation to research needs and opportunities
- STRATEGIC PRIORITY: RECLAMATION AS IT RELATES TO FOREST GENETIC RESOURCES MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION STANDARDS (FGRMS REVISED 2016) AND NON-FOREST DISPOSITIONS
Rationale: To improve the knowledge and understanding of reclamation activities and materials and continue to advance reclamation with respect to resolving reclamation issues, including issues identified during the 2015 review and revision of the Forest Genetic Resources Management and Conservation Standards. Provide recommendations to the Council aimed at improving the knowledge and understanding of reclamation activities and materials and to continue to advance reclamation in order to achieve the reclamation objective of self-sustaining ecosystems.
Mechanism: Establish a Reclamation Technical Advisory Committee
- Consider establishment of seed zones for shrubs, and needs to achieve this
- Advise on ways and means to measure and quantify the effects of reclamation materials on forest genetic resources
- Advise on ways and means to enhance our understanding of seed and propagule banking needs
- Prepare a plan for future seed and other propagule needs for reclamation for shrubs and trees
- Develop guidelines for establishment of shrub seed orchards (see Forest Genetics Resources Management and Conservation Standards 2016)
- Identify threatened seed collection areas (for example, open pit mining regions)
- Assess the need for genetically improved seed for reclamation plants (gain is different from that of trees)
- Assess climate change adaptation of plants used in reclamation
- Assess the prescription success
- Identify and recommend mitigation for issues with respect to forest genetic resources management reclamation issues – undertake a scoping exercise
- Provide recommendations to address the gaps identified in the Forest Genetics Resources Management and Conservation Standards (revised 2016, see page 3 Section 2)
- Provide recommendations for surface soil, salvage and transfer of surface material beyond seed zones
- Provide recommendations to enhance understanding of the reclamation regulatory framework (pipelines, exploration, pads, seismic as they have their own regulatory bodies and challenges)
- Provide any other advice to advance reclamation on public lands with respect to forest genetic resources and with a focus on non-forest disposition areas
- STRATEGIC PRIORITY: REPORT ON THE STATE OF ALBERTA’S FOREST GENETIC RESOURCES
Rationale: To enhance and understand trending of Alberta’s forest genetic resources and provide routine reporting on the state of Alberta’s forest genetic resources.
Mechanism: Government of Alberta – with support from the Council Communication Committee plus others as required
- Advocate for the Government of Alberta to prepare and publish a report on the state of Alberta’s Forest Genetic Resources
- Contribute to the preparation of the report on the state of Alberta’s Forest Genetic Resources
- Recommend the frequency of future reporting
- STRATEGIC PRIORITY: RESEARCH AND POLICY
Rationale: To improve and advance knowledge in relation to Alberta’s forest genetic resources management as inputs in the development of Government of Alberta forest genetic resources policies.
Mechanism: Input from Council members and Technical Advisory Committees to be compiled to identify research priorities in the various forest genetic resources research areas.
- Council members to identify forest genetic resources research priorities: short-term (5 year), mid-term and long-term (10+ years)
- Compile research priorities identified by the Council Technical Advisory Committees
- Consider research needs as outlined in the 2016 revised Forest Genetics Resources Management and Conservation Standards (see page 3 Section 2)
- Review research proposals as requested by the Government of Alberta or other Council members
- Solicit funding and/or requests for forest genetic resources research
- On request, review and endorse Government of Alberta forest genetic resources policies and propose amendments and enhancements
- STRATEGIC PRIORITY: POLICY DEVELOPMENT
Rationale: Continue and enhance Council’s role in undertaking reviews of Government of Alberta policies on request by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry – Forest Management Branch, and to further efforts to identify policy needs and potential adjustments in regard to emerging issues and forest genetic resources related policies.
Mechanism: Council as a whole.
- Review and endorse Government of Alberta policies on request by the Forest Management Branch
- Identify and recommend policies adjustments and needs for the sustainable management and conservation of Alberta’s forest genetic resources
- STRATEGIC PRIORITY: COUNCIL COMMUNICATIONS
Rationale: To continue and enhance Council’s important role in communicating the essential need for the sustainable use and conservation of Alberta’s forest genetic resources, as well as to inform stakeholders and other members of the public of emerging issues and needs in relation to forest genetic resources.
Mechanism: Council Communication Committee, website development, preparation and sharing of communications products and participation in public and other events
- Website development and maintenance
- Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to develop a simplified guidance document to explain the Forest Genetic Resources Management and Conservation Standards for all sectors and consider preparation of fact sheets to answer questions from stakeholders related to the 2016 Forest Genetic Resources Management and Conservation Standards
- Preparation of the Council Biennial Report
- Communicate with other organizations – invites and reports to Council from other organizations and provide Council reports to other organizations
- Preparation of an updated 3-year communication plan
- STRATEGIC PRIORITY: SEED PRODUCTION
Rationale: To provide forums for Council members and others to learn and exchange ideas on seed orchard matters and orchard management issues, and to identify any emerging issues.
Mechanisms: a variety of mechanisms to be used to exchange ideas on seed orchard matters and orchard management issues, and to identify emerging issues, including mechanisms such as study tours and meetings among orchard researchers, managers and operators
- The Council and researchers invited study – engagement tours
- The Council review of reports from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry – orchard matters and orchard management issues
- Convening of meetings for orchard researchers, managers and operators (annual/biennial)
- Establish other mechanisms as needed with seed orchard organizations to facilitate exchanges of best practices and identify emerging issues
Approved by Council February, 2017
 Species that are designated as endangered or threatened are then legally identified as such under the Alberta’s Wildlife Act.