Benefits of cooperative tree breeding for Australia’s sheep wheat belt
The Australian Low Rainfall Tree Breeding Group (ALRTIG) was established in 1999 and has a mission to produce genetically improved planting material for farm forestry in the low rainfall areas of southern Australia, and inform tree growers of its availability. The group is a cooperative of State and Commonwealth Government stakeholders in low rainfall farm forestry research, and is supported by the Joint Venture Agroforestry Program. The participation of farmers in establishing the trials has also been of paramount importance. The value of the cooperative approach is discussed.
ALRTIG's area of focus has been the southern sheep-wheat belt, including parts of NSW, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. ALRTIG has established over 100 ha of seed orchards and genetics trials for a small number of key eucalypt species (as well as exotic softwoods). Data pooled from the partner's pre-existing research and results from newly established trials are showing the significant benefits afforded by tree breeding. Genetic improvement is likely to be one of the keys to achieving economically viable revegetation at the scale required to give significant environmental benefits.
Note to conference organiser: the paper will address how re-vegetation can be paid for, and also the 'how do we know if we're making a difference' question, so it aligns with 'big questions' 2 and 5.