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A participatory science project for climate-resilient forests in Europe

MyGardenOfTrees is a participatory science project supported by the European Commission and led by a team of researchers from the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL.

Our aim

The aim of MyGardenOfTrees is to evaluate the growth and regeneration capacity of silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) through experimental gardens in Europe. Observations obtained from these gardens will be used to build a prediction tool for foresters to help them building forests better adapted to climate change.

Each provenance distributed to hundreds of micro-gardens

Provenance trials (see Glossary) have been used for centuries to test the performance of forest tree species. However, in provenance trials species and provenances are only evaluated under the particular (often ideal) site conditions of the trial, and cannot be transferred to real forest conditions. Further, provenance trials are established with seedlings grown in nurseries, so they cannot inform foresters about natural regeneration.

MyGardenOfTrees attempts to bring a solution to these shortcomings by establishing, in parallel, hundreds of small provenance trials, called micro-gardens (see Glossary), each followed by a local forester. Gardens will be established from seeds directly in the forest, an approach called direct seeding (see Glossary). Such a distributed trial approach have already been successfully used in agriculture, where farmers tested the climate resilience of crop and vegetable varieties.

Study species

Silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) are keystone species of European forest ecosystems. MyGardenOfTrees will also study their Mediterranean and Oriental sister and subspecies, such as Oriental beech (Fagus sylvatica subsp. orientalis (Lipsky) Greuter & Burdet) or Nordmann fir (also known as Caucasian fir) (Abies nordmanniana (Steven) Spach). These sister species harbor more diversity than our European species, which probably results in a higher potential to adapt to climate change. Importing these species from outside Europe is a management strategy called assisted migration (see Glossary).

Interested in the science behind MyGardenOfTrees? Read on here.

We need your participation!

The ambitious goal of MyGardenOfTrees can only be met with your help! We are calling for the participation of foresters willing to establish micro-gardens in a forest that they own or manage, and follow the germination, development and growth of trees for five years or longer. Private persons, such as biology teachers, with relevant authorizations from the forest owner are also welcome to join!

Read more about the different trials

MyGardenOfTrees is compliant with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and in particular with the Nagoya Protocol (see Glossary) on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their utilization (ABS).