The Pacific Northwest Tree Improvement Research Cooperative (PNWTIRC) was formed in 1983 to conduct research in support of operational tree improvement in the Pacific Northwest. Today, the cooperative has 12 member organizations, and is housed in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University. Glenn Howe is the Director of the Cooperative. PNWTIRC staff include Anna Magnuson, Oguz Urhan (a Ph.D. student), Meridith McClure (an M.S. student), and Zeynep Cicekli (an M.S. student).


Our Purpose

The Pacific Northwest Tree Improvement Research Cooperative (PNWTIRC: http://pnwtirc.forestry.oregonstate.edu) conducts forest genetics and tree breeding research that supports forest management by federal and state agencies and a multi-billion-dollar forest products industry. Over the years, our members have included private companies and governmental agencies in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. The focus of our research is on Pacific Northwest tree species and the development of new tree breeding tools and approaches. The knowledge and tools we develop are made available to breeders in reports, scientific publications, and through technology transfer meetings and workshops. Most of our research attention has been on Douglas-fir, but we also conduct research on other tree species such as western hemlock and western white pine.

Members of the PNWTIRC provide funds needed to conduct PNWTIRC research, and also contribute field sites, plant materials, and the expertise and energy needed to make the research possible and relevant. Additionally, we have many outside partners and funding organizations that have contributed to our success.


Our Mission is to...

  • Create a knowledge base concerning genetic improvement and breeding of Pacific Northwest tree species
  • Develop reliable, simple, and cost-effective genetic improvement methods and apply these methods to solve tree-breeding problems
  • Promote effective collaboration and communication among public agencies and private industries engaged in tree improvement in the region

The fundamental mission of the PNWTIRC has been the same since 1983—to advance tree breeding and our understanding of native tree populations in the Pacific Northwest. The prospects for using genomics to enhance tree breeding are great, and will be a key area of research into the future. At the same time, climate change imposes challenges to tree breeders and forest managers. Thus, it is particularly important to understand how trees are genetically adapted to climate. Future research by the PNWTIRC will continue to address topics such as seed zones and breeding zones, assisted migration, and the genetics of adaptation to cold and drought.

PNWTIRC Program Description (PDF)

Graduate Research Assistantships: contact Glenn Howe at glenn.howe@oregonstate or (541) 737-9001


History of PNWTIRC

The PNWTIRC was formed in 1983 to address concerns that forest genetics research was not keeping pace with the rapid expansion of applied tree breeding programs. In March of 1982, an ad hoc committee was formed with representatives from four private companies and Oregon State University. Their mission was to evaluate the need for additional forest genetics and tree breeding research in the Pacific Northwest.

Based on an informal survey of tree improvement research in the region, and the results of a questionnaire by the Northwest Seed Orchard Managers Association, the committee concluded that additional tree improvement research was needed to augment ongoing programs. Furthermore, the committee concluded that a research cooperative was the best way to meet this need. A proposal for a cooperative to be centered at OSU was developed by the ad hoc committee and circulated among forestry organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest in October of 1982. Extensive review of the proposal occurred over the next six months, culminating at a public forum held in Corvallis on March 18, 1983. Response to the proposal from many public and private forestry organizations was enthusiastic, so on July 1, 1983, the PNWTIRC was officially established. The membership has included representatives from public agencies and private forestry companies in western Oregon, western Washington, and coastal British Columbia.

History of PNWTIRC research