Year In Review – 2015

This was a busy year for the Alberta Forest Genetic Resources Council. The Council released its 2014-15 Report, which contains a strong message of support for Council from Mr. Darren Tapp, the Executive Director, Alberta Forest Management Branch. It also provides overviews of initiatives that are underway in the province to further the use and conservation of forest genetic resources as well as to enhance reclamation efforts in forested areas. The Report is posted on the Council’s website.

Several Council members continued their involvement in the review of the Alberta Forest Genetic Resource Management and Conservation Standards (2009), with the Steering and Technical Committees concluding their work in May. The Government of Alberta then consolidated the inputs and prepared draft documents for consultation. The Council reviewed and endorsed the planned government led consultation process, and several Council members attended consultation meetings convened in Edmonton and Calgary in the fall.

In August, Council members, in full partnership with staff from the Alberta Forest Management Branch, convened a strategic planning workshop in Edmonton. In September, Council considered the outputs of the strategic planning workshop and agreed to an ambitious and comprehensive agenda to guide the work of the Council over the next 3-5 years or longer. Strategic priorities agreed to by Council include: gene conservation, productivity and tree improvement, research on genetics and tree breeding, preparation of a report on the state of Alberta’s forest genetic resources, policy development, research to support policy development, reclamation in relation to the revised Forest Genetic Resources and Management Standards, seed production, communication, and collaboration. Technical Advisory Groups are being established to assist Council to advance work on several of the strategic priorities. The Council also reviewed its membership as part of its strategic planning process. It recommended the appointment of an additional Council member to represent research institutions and an additional member be appointed with expertise in growth and yield.

A number of changes to the Council membership occurred in 2015. Mr. Bob Winship, Manager with Weyerhaeuser – Pembina Timberlands was appointed by Mr. Tapp to Council, as a representative of the industry sector (hardwood). In response to the recommendations by Council, Mr. Tapp appointed Dr. Barb Thomas, Industrial Research Chair in Tree Improvement, University of Alberta, to represent research institutions. Barb was welcomed back to Council having served on Council for many years in the past. Dr. Yuqing Yang, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry – Forest Management Branch, was appointed to Council to help guide discussions on the integration of genetic improvement and growth and yield. Mr. Tapp also invited Ms. Lee Charleson, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry – Manager, Alberta Tree Improvement & Seed Centre, to join Council as a Government of Alberta representative, noting that Council would benefit from her many years of experience with development of forest policy and tree improvement in British Columbia.

Council members attended a number of conferences on various aspects of forest genetic resources management during the year, including the 34th Canadian Forest Genetics Association conference held in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and the IUFRO Spruce Conference convened in Edmonton, Alberta. Council members reported to Council on the main highlights or outcomes of these events.

In April, the Council learned that Bruce Macmillan, a former long-time member of Council, and his wife Kathy, had died during a devastating earthquake in Nepal. The Council expressed condolences to Bruce and Kathy’s family and friends, and acknowledged the many contributions of Bruce to forest genetic resources use and conservation.

Richard Laing, Chair

Alberta Forest Genetic Resources Council 2015