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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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IFV (Improved Forest Varieties) Evaluation network

IFV  (Improved Forest Varieties) Evaluation network
Partners: INRAE, ONF, CNPF
Coordination : INRAE, 45290 Nogent-sur-Vernisson, France.
Experimental sites located in metropolitan France.

Reseau Evaluation VFA


The State seed orchards (financed by the Ministry in Charge of Forests), plantations in the network composed of genotypes selected for traits of economic interest are intended to produce genetically improved seeds for reforestation. Seed performance is assessed on their progeny in comparative multi-site tetst to guide the choice of forest owners and managers.

INRAE, ONF and CNPF evaluate these State seed orchards. The experimental network, which covers 82 ha, has 76 plots where the products of 8 Douglas fir orchards, 2 hybrid larch orchards, 1 European larch orchard and 3 Laricio pine orchards are evaluated (tests evaluating a common spruce orchard may be added to the list at a later date). The varieties are compared with each other and with one or more control provenances, as well as with foreign varieties in the case of larch.

The 76 plots were planted from 1995 to 2016 in varying patterns (single-tree in plots of different sizes) to reconcile the scientific objectives - obtaining reliable results at different time steps - and the demonstration plots for certain trials to optimize the transfer of knowledge to managers.
The Douglas-fir and larch networks cover a large area characterized by varied site conditions. Thus, the 38 plots of the recently created Douglas partnership network (from 2009 to 2016) were voluntarily installed in various pedoclimatic contexts in order to study genotype  environment interactions. The experimental sites are divided into three main categories according to the presumed impact of climate change: negligible (major current production basins in the northern zone), unfavourable (southern and eastern fringes of the Massif Central) or, on the contrary, favourable (high-altitude sites). In addition, a recent extension of the network makes it possible to better explore the ecological gradients for a potential Douglas fir reforestation area, including in particular sites on limestone. In the case of larch, some French sites are part of various European-scale networks, which adds to the diversity of the test sites.

Organisationally, the IFV Evaluation Network is not managed as a single entity. While the majority of Douglas fir's evaluation trials are part of a structured partnership network with its own steering committee, the remaining trials are monitored and measured individually by the different member institutions with a lesser degree of integration.

Services offer

The network installs experimental plots to fill knowledge gaps and produce data from measurements taken regularly during the trial period activity. After a close follow-up in the first years, the measurement campaigns are spaced out to every 3-5 years on average. The characteristics taken into account vary according to species and plot age; in general, they concern adaptation to the environment (survival, budburst phenology, biotic and abiotic damage), growth (height, circumference), shape (branch density and insertion angle, trunk straightness, basal curvature, forking), the status of the trees in the case of thinning and the taxon for certain larch trials (hybrid/non hybrid).

The test data are managed by the research institutions. In addition, for Douglas Fir Partnership Network, sites are pooled to allow multi-site analyses and a metadata base is under construction.

In addition, the research and development organisms involved in the evaluation of the improved forest varieties actively participate in the transfer of the knowledge they acquire to professionals in the forest sector, including seed suppliers, nursery growers, forest owners and managers. This transfer takes on a variety of forms: information meetings, technical articles, and updating the advice sheets on the use of forest reproductive material available on the site of the Ministry in Charge of Forests. Data from the evaluation network are also valorised in scientific articles, although this is not the primary objective.


The Douglas Partnership Network is managed by a steering committee, with one or more representatives from each partner organization, which meets at least once a year. This Committee takes all the necessary decisions concerning the network (number and type of trials in each type of environment, distribution among the organisations, choice of land, seed collection, plant breeding), the measurements (targetted characteristics, frequency, experimental protocols) and the use of the results obtained. Coordination is ensured by INRAE Nogent-sur-Vernisson.

The other trials are managed directly by the organisms that installed them, in more or less close collaboration with the partners working on the same species.

In all cases, the data remain the exclusive property of the organisations responsible for the experiments that generated the data.

The group evaluating varieties from State orchards allocates 2 full time equivalent (FTE) engineers and 2 FTE assistant engineers/technicians annually to these actions, and receives regular financial support from the Ministry in Charge of Forests.

Operations and data access

Composed of common genetic units located in various pedoclimatic situations, the network represents a very rich capital that can generate knowledge in fields other than forest genetics. The managing institutions will consider any requests by other research institutes for access to the data or the experimental sites, while insisting on their willingness to be involved as much as possible in the projects carried out by the users.

The conditions of access to the data or experimental sites of the Douglas Partnership Network will be governed by a charter, currently under construction, similar to that of the GIS Coop data.

Data access and cost

There is no set fee; the cost will depend on the nature of the request.

Available measurements

Temperature sensors and rain gauges for two sites in the Douglas network.