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A Short History of the Forest Genetics Council

Tree improvement activities in British Columbia have historically been coordinated through cooperative Councils, beginning with the Plus Tree Board in the 1960s and continuing with the Coastal and Interior Tree Improvement Councils from the late 1970s until 1997. Changes in provincial legislation that guide forest tenure and management on Crown land, advances in technical knowledge, development of genetic improvement programs, and changes in public expectations for Crown forest land management have changed the focus and need for genetic resource management over time.

In the late 1970s, when the original Coastal and Interior Tree Improvement Councils were established, most genetic management activities on Crown land were carried out cooperatively by industry and government. Funding provided through Section 88 of the Forest Act included capital and operating costs for industry orchards and for Ministry of Forests and Range genetic testing. Substantial development of seed orchards took place during this cooperative period. Large orchards were built to meet the total seed requirements for a species within a seed zone, usually in excess of the seed requirement needs of the company operating the orchard. As part of the cooperative, the Ministry of Forests and Range owned and operated orchards, and also provided a planning and regulatory role.

Legislative changes in 1987 shifted the cost of basic reforestation activities (including seed costs) to forest companies, dismantling the funding mechanism and cooperative structure that had been set up to coordinate the supply of improved seed for Crown land. Seed orchards previously operated by forest companies and funded through Section 88, and seed orchard seed inventories, became the property and responsibility of the companies. The change in funding also removed much of the Ministry of Forests and Range's ability to guide development of industry orchards.

In March 1997, the provincial chief forester merged the Coastal and Interior Tree Improvement Councils, and appointed a single transitional Tree Improvement Council of British Columbia (TIC). The mandate of the transitional TIC was to develop and recommend an organizational structure among government, industry, Forest Renewal BC, and universities that will result in the efficient delivery of a forest genetics program in British Columbia.

Acting on this mandate, the transitional TIC developed a ten-year Strategic Plan, which outlines an organizational structure and identifies roles and responsibilities for stakeholders to cooperatively deliver a genetic resource management program for forest trees in British Columbia for the period 1998-2007. With the assistance of the Coastal and Interior Technical Advisory Committees (TACs), the transitional TIC also produced a Business Plan *that outlined the activities required to meet the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan.

As one of its concluding activities, the transitional TIC recommended that the name "Forest Genetics Council of British Columbia (FGC)" be given to the permanent multi-stakeholder council that would set provincial goals and objectives related to forest genetic resource management.

The Chief Forester of B.C. endorsed the Council's Strategic and Business plans in July 1998, including the new name and the enlargement of program scope implied by the new name. The new Council was appointed in November 1998.

Specific Directives (1998)

The Chief Forester of B.C., in a letter ** endorsing Council's Strategic and Business Plans, gave Council specific directions on the following issues:

  • to consider involving stakeholders outside those currently represented by Council, in light of Council's aggressive goals and objectives for the use of "A" seed ***
  • to refine estimates of the costs and benefits of forest genetic resource management, and to consider these in all aspects of program development
  • to develop closer ties with ministry staff involved in timber supply policy and analysis to ensure that the timber supply planning and AAC determination processes can transparently and consistently account for the use of genetically improved planting stock
  • to discuss and make recommendations regarding management of Council's program
  • to ensure that activities are coordinated and objectives are achieved
  • to aggressively promote implementation of the genetic conservation program framework
  • to undertake communications and extension activities needed to foster endorsement of forest genetic resource management by the broader forestry community
  • to communicate to the broader forestry community the significance of the change in Council's name [from "Tree Improvement Council" to "Forest Genetics Council]
  • to make future changes in Council membership with attention to topical issues.

* Forest Genetics Council of B.C. Business Plan (1998-2007)

**23 July 1988

***Class A refers to seed and vegetative material derived from orchards and production facilities. Generally, seed and vegetative lots registered as Class A have a Genetic Worth greater than ‘zero’.

www.fgcouncil.ca © Forest Genetics Council of BC, 2019





The need for
genetic resource management has
changed over time












The TIC was
the forerunner of
today's FGC