By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 1 Aug: In the series of monthly seminars, one on ‘Genetically improved planting stock as an important and valuable resource for increasing productivity of plantation forests’ was organised today by the Division of Genetics and Tree Improvement, Forest Research Institute, here. The main aim of the seminar was to share knowledge of planting stock improvement for enhancement of productivity in plantations. A total of 73 delegates from various institutes, universities, industries and forest departments participated in the seminar. It was divided into two technical sessions besides the inaugural and panel sessions. A brief introduction was given by all the delegates at the beginning. Dr Ashok Kumar, Scientist F & Head, Division of Genetics and Tree Improvement, welcomed all the delegates and presented an overview of the seminar. He postulated that the seminar supported future research on action and planning for productivity enhancement in forests. He also gave an overview of the history, vision and mandate of the Genetics and Tree Improvement Division at FRI, along with brief highlights of activities and significant achievements. He also presented various ongoing research programmes being executed by the division on Melia, Neem, Eucalyptus, Polygonatum and forest conservation, etc. An ambitious programme for Neem improvement supported by IFFCO was also discussed focusing importance on supporting the national policy of 100% neem coated urea. Progress achieved in selecting the genotypes with higher oil and azadirechtin content was highlighted. Chief Guest Dr Mohammad Yousuf, Scientist G, Officiating Director, Forest Research Institute, addressed the gathering and highlighted the contribution of FRI in the tree improvement and productivity enhancement by plantation forestry. The keynote address was given by Dr A Nicodamus (IFGTB, Coimbatore) on ‘Tree Improvement and Breeding: challenges for synthesis of hybrids’. He discussed case studies in which significant success was achieved through tree Improvement and breeding programmes in species like Teak, Eucalyptus, Casuarina, etc. The major challenges to be met by plantation forestry are to restrict wood import, meet industrial demand, mitigate climate change, etc. He presented a model plan for long term tree breeding programmes executed in Casuarina which started from 1991 with provenance trial and currently several varieties have been released for commercial cultivation in 2010, 2014 and 1017. A case study was shown for economic gain achieved by breeding efforts with recorded average gain of 20 tonnes/ha. The detailed procedure was discussed for synthesis of improved interspecific hybrids in Eucalyptus and Casuarina for various end user specific traits like fast growth, straightness, smooth bark, higher pulp yield, etc. The first technical session was started with a presentation by Jagdish Chander, PCCF (Biodiversity), Haryana, and highlighted the role and responsibilities of geneticists and breeders in forest management and planting stock improvement. Dr Yogendra Singh, Professor, GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, discussed techniques for acquiring disease resistance in genetically improved planting stock. The second technical session began with a keynote address on ‘Role of PPV&FRA in registering and protecting the clones and varieties of forest tree species’ by Dr Ravi Prakash, Registrar, PPV&FRA, New Delhi, detailing benefits of registering the released varieties and clones as well as developing synergies between research institutes and industry. In this series, Dr Ashok Kumar, Scientist F, Division of Genetics and Tree Improvement, FRI, discussed the procedure of releasing tree varieties and their impact on society through the case studies of recently released varieties in Melia dubia and Eucalyptus with emphasis on releasing clones and varieties of forest trees for economic uplift of rural societies. The last presentation was given by Dr Rajesh Sharma, Scientist G, Himalayan Forest Research Institute, Shimla on ‘DUS characterisation in forest trees with special reference to conifers’. The seminar ended with a panel discussion and recommendation for future roadmap and concluding remarks of the Director, FRI.