‘Systems approach’ plant breeding is about considering multiple global challenges together within the breeding process, to make sustainable progress in addressing those challenges.
For a systems approach to tree breeding to be successful, the starting point is a broad set of measures that define breeding success. The values applied should extend beyond the traditional ones of productivity and profitability, and embrace resilience, sustainability, nutritional security, local cultures and conservation.
Policy interventions that encourage a systems approach to tree breeding should provide incentives for tree researchers and breeders to embrace these broader values during tree characterization and genetic improvement. There should also be specific incentives for tree breeders to bring together existing breeding methods in novel ways to ensure that multiple values are addressed.