A collaborative effort to advance the country’s understanding and role of biotechnology to address some of today’s most pressing forest health challenges. The initiative will initially focus on restoring a test species and an icon of eastern U. S. forests – the American chestnut – whose numbers were virtually wiped out during the past century by chestnut blight. While working to restore the American chestnut as the test tree, the program will explore new approaches to enhance the health and vitality of other trees, forests, and forest ecosystems. The Initiative will use a holistic approach to address emerging forest health threats by assessing not just the science but the societal and regulatory issues concurrently.
The near-term focus is on efforts to safely and effectively use biotechnology to an develop American chestnut that is resistant to the chestnut blight and root rot, to be safely restored in our forests.
Using the tools of biotechnology to aid in restoring species decimated by disease will test the application of current regulatory policy where flowering and propagation of the tree is desired.
Extensive dialogues with stakeholders will be incorporated to better understand concerns, inform the science and regulatory efforts, and create a more informed citizenry about implications of forest biotechnology, forest threats, and opportunities to overcome these threats.