“Tree breeding has added 2 Billion dollars to the forest industry” said the presenter during a seminar.

Two billion? With a B? How come we struggle to get funding for projects then—I asked myself.

There are two testing cultures in forestry: the inventory/modeller crowd and the breeding crowd. The inventory crowd often relies on multiple-tree plots over a given area. Plots can be rectangular, circular, defined by prism, etc. The breeding crowd tends to use single-tree plots, because they (including myself) are testing many genotypes and it is more statistically efficient to use plots defined by a single individual.

Breeders use a selection index that gives a dollar value for each individual, while competing against a mix of genotypes (remember single-tree plots?). We would like to extend those results to inventory level and multiply the values by hundreds of thousands of hectares, there is a correlation with area-based performance, but not perfect.

Don’t get me wrong, I work in breeding. However, the selection values are Monopoly money until we get realised genetic gain validated by inventory plots in Real money. The two testing cultures have to match and forest valuation go up by $2 Billion before making a claim like that.