Initiatives of the IFB

The Institute of Forest Biosciences (IFB) currently has five initiatives that build on our three platforms of Sceince, Dialogue, and Stewardship. Click an initiative name to learn more about it.

Responsible Use: Biotech Tree Principles

The Institute of Forest Biosciences launched its Responsible Use initiative in 2008 to develop global principles that guide responsible use of forest biotechnology. As with all of the IFB’s initiatives, this will be a multi-stakeholder driven process. Experts from academia, environmental organizations, the forest products industry, government agencies, participated in developing these stewardship guidelines. The Principles are free to use and available online at

The Principles were developed to help forest stewards wherever biotech trees are used. These Principles are the first of their kind and were developed through a transparent, multi-stakeholder mechanism, to achieve the following objectives:

  • Establish a high level of performance for managing biotech trees that is recognized around the world.
  • Create a simple and effective set of practices so users along the biotech tree value chain know how to use the trees responsibly.
  • Increase societal benefits when biotech trees are used by promoting interaction and education between foresters, biotechnologists, and other stakeholders.

Embodied throughout is an understanding that biotech trees and their products should create sustainable benefits. Benefits may be derived from the biotech tree, its products, or scientific insight gained through forest biotechnology research. The Practices give users tools to help them enhance the benefits of forest biotechnology, mitigate risks and maintain the integrity of a biotech tree’s history as it moves along the value chain.

10 Truths

Academia, conservation groups, industry and all other stakeholders who developed these Principles agreed on five truths on which the Principles are based:

  1. Forests are important to people and animals
  2. Social equity and indigenous rights are important and must be respected
  3. Biotechnology is a powerful tool
  4. Biotech trees should benefit people, the environment, or both
  5. Biotech trees provide the potential for unique and diverse applications
  6. Biotech trees raise personal, environmental, and cultural questions
  7. Risks and benefits of biotech trees must be assessed
  8. Biotech trees are being used around the world with different levels of oversight
  9. Transparency is vital and stakeholders must be engaged
  10. Biotech tree use must follow regulations in the country of their application

Visit the Responsible Use website to learn more about these Principles and see how you can help shape the future of biotech tree stewardship.

Tree Genes

The health of many forests around the world is declining because of stresses brought on by changing climates and invasive diseases and pests. There are several large research projects working to understand how trees respond to the climate and biotic stressors at a genetic level. In the future tree breeders will have the use of genomic information to produce better adapted trees. The Tree Genes Initiative (TGI) brings together resources to accelerate the development and us of stress adapted trees.

At its core the TGI is a consortium of organizations engaged in the research, growth, deployment, and management of stress-adapted trees. Consortium experts include forest biotechnologists, tree breeders, forest growers, and forest managers. The TGI fosters communication among organizations throughout the research-management chain, and to outside stakeholders. This is accomplished by first identifying current efforts.  Consortium members identify unmet information needs and potential roadblocks to using stress adapted trees.

The TGI brings the right people together to identify and address what is needed to use stress-adapted trees in coming years. The TGI has the following specific goals:

  1. Establish a consortium of experts in the research-stewardship chain of stress-adapted trees to foster communication between researchers and end users.
  2. Identify gaps, roadblocks, or other unmet needs in the chain.
  3. Develop plans to address the unmet needs.
  4. Communicate the analysis and plan to consortium members and decision makers.

Visit for more information about this initiative, and how you can participate in it.

The TGI began from the success of the Tree Genes Initiative (TGI). As manager of the TGI we helped researchers secure $14.6 Million in grant money to sequence 3 pine tree species.


TreeTaggr harnesses citizen science for healthy and productive forests

Our native forests and urban trees are under threat each year by a host of new stresses ranging from changing climates to pests and diseases. Some species, such as the once-dominant chestnut and elm, have been effectively wiped out by disease while ash and other species are under attack right now.

Imagine if everyone who loved trees could help gather good, reliable, forest health data? With TreeTaggr, that is possible. Smartphones have all the hardware necessary to gather a picture, location, user observations about a tree, and send the information to a cloud database. The TreeTaggr system has been built from the ground up to foster a community of users that want to learn about forests and work together to create robust, actionable, forest health information.

Visit for more information about this tool, and how you can use it to help our forests.

Forest Health Initiative

IFB staff manage the Forest Health Initiative (FHI) project as a whole, and also lead the regulatory effort. The FHI is a collaborative effort to advance the countrys understanding and role of biotechnology to address some of todays 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.

Visit for more information about this initiative, and how you can participate in it.

Heritage Trees

The Heritage Trees program will work to protect or preserve threatened and endangered tree species. Our work focuses on opening dialogue among scientists, practitioners, and policy makers to establish a course of action. These dialogues coalesce partnerships and augment individual efforts in a way that is thoughtful, practical, and non-competitive to all parties. For more information about this initiative please contact us directly.