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Quercus petraea
Sessile oak

Sessile oak (Quercus petraea) is large, long-lived deciduous tree native to most of Europe. This species, together with the very similar pedunculate oak (Q. robur), is one of the most economically and ecologically important deciduous forest tree species in Europe.

The wood from oaks is of good quality and is valued for several purposes, including construction, furniture, veneer and fencing. In coppices, oaks provide a valuable source of firewood and charcoal. As the wood is resistant to liquids, as well as to insect and fungal attacks, it is also particularly useful for wine and spirit barrels.

Oak species have an important ecological role, as they support various insects and their fruit (acorns) provide a valuable food source for many birds and mammals. The canopy of oaks allows a fair amount of light to pass through, permitting a diverse and enriched understory. The tree is a light-demanding, pioneer species and is able to vigorously coppice.

Sessile oak prefers fertile and moist soils. It has a very large ecological niche and is quite tolerant to drought and poor soil. As a result, the tree sometimes occupies extreme habitats, though it is sensitive to airless soil conditions.

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Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use

Quercus robur and Quercus petraea - Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use for pedunculate and sessile oaks

Publication Year: 2003
Author: Ducousso, A.; Bordacs, S.

The forest reproductive material transfer in international trade must be in agreement with EU Directives and the OECD scheme. All scientific studies are congruent for the promotion of local material. Forest managers are urged to follow these guidelines:

1) Natural regeneration must be a priority.

2) Reproductive material must be transferred only at a local scale; transfers among provenance regions must be strictly limited. Foresters must use genetic resources for artificial regeneration from local seed stands, that have been selected for their phenotypic values and silvicultural histories.

3) Development of seedlingraising agreements between nurseries and forest managers is needed.

At present in Europe, these genetic resources are not really endangered except in some situations (marginal populations in coastal sand dunes or peatbogs; altitudes >1400 m) and at the limits of the natural range. These genetic resources are potentially threatened by introduction of exotic genotypes, species purification, neglected practices and conversion to high forest. For these reasons, we recommend development of programmes of gene conservation with the following objectives:

1) Sampling of genetic diversity: sampling strategies defined empirically or according to results obtained with molecular and quantitative markers.

2) Conservation of evolutionary mechanisms: the high genetic diversity of white oaks is the result of evolutionary mechanisms such as interspecific hybridization.

3) Conservation of oak ecosystems: humans have created ecotypes adapted to different management for wood production and acorn crops. Most of these management systems are neglected because foresters have undertaken conversion to high forest.

4) Conservation of endangered populations and minor species: marginal or endangered populations in Europe need conservation measures. The first step is to take a census, then define a policy for each situation.

In situ conservation methods should be generally preferred. If natural regeneration methods are not sufficient, an adapted and specified ex situ conservation programme including a controlled autochthonous reproductive material system (e.g. clonal seed orchards) should be used as well to preserve the endangered genepool.

[link: www.euforgen.org/templates/euforgen.org/upload/Publications/Technical_guidelines/1038_Technical_guidelines_for_genetic_conservation_and_use_for_Pedunculate_and_sessile_oaks__Quercus_robur__and__Quercus_petraea_.pdf]

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