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Development of economic forest tree breeding objectives: review of existing methodology and discussion of its application in Swedish conditions

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Genetic selection in forest tree breeding requires multiple traits to be considered simultaneously. Based on an economic breeding objective, traits are weighted according to their economic importance to create an index used for selection. Economic breeding objectives have mainly been developed in animal breeding and have only recently been applied to forest tree breeding. A review of the general methodology highlights the decisions associated with developing economic breeding objectives and their effects. Furthermore, studies concerning economic forest tree breeding objectives provide a bulk of knowledge and practical experience for fast growing, short rotation species. We have identified and discussed challenges when applying this methodology in Swedish tree breeding. Major challenges are: (1) managing the uncertainty of future industrial uses of wood and industrial processing, originating from long rotations; (2) various issues associated with having a production system describing an entire nation; (3) the size and effects of the discount rate; (4) developing models capable of representing genetic changes in the complex and dynamic system of growing and harvesting trees. We believe that these challenges must be tackled by a joint multi-disciplinary effort, involving stakeholders and researchers in several areas (e.g. forest genetics, economics, wood engineering), to make significant progress.
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Keywords: Breeding objective; discount rate; economic weights; forest trees; long rotations; selection

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Skogforsk (The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden), Uppsala Science Park, SE-751 83,Uppsala, Sweden 2: Department of Forest Products,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 7008SE-750 07,Uppsala, Sweden 3: Department of Animal Nutrition and Management,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 7024SE-750 07,Uppsala, Sweden 4: Skogforsk (The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden), SE-918 21,Sävar, Sweden

Publication date: 01 October 2012

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