The H2020 project GenTree was awarded the prestigious "Prix spécial du jury" at the 8th annual "Les Etoiles de l'Europe" ceremony on 16 Dec 2020. The award was handed to Bruno Fady, senior scientist at INRAE and the coordinator of GenTree, by Ms Frédérique Vidal, the French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation at an online ceremony.
Les Etoiles de l'Europe is a French award that each year honours small and large EU projects coordinated by French institutions as an encouragement for scientists to lead EU-funded collaborative research efforts.
GenTree was recognized for its scientific excellence, its European dimension and its great societal impact, tackling issues that are strategic for generations to come, such as the resilience of forest ecosystems and their underpinning genetic diversity.
Taking stock of several decades of research and collaboration on forest genetic resources, GenTree paved the European way on how this raw material of life can be used to improve sustainable forest management under global warming and changing societal expectations.
The resources produced during the four years of the project on twelve major European forest tree species include (1) large and small scale genomic data, (2) a series of databases on tree rings, leaf and whole-tree phenotypic traits, and forest ecology and dynamics, and (3) a catalogue of policies affecting genetic diversity.
These resources will be used for years to come and will contribute significantly to further investigate the complex and only partly understood mechanisms that enable adaptation to take place in tree species, which is a question of critical importance for management.
“I believe that what made for the success of GenTree is that it posed a crucial scientific question that could be answered from many angles and required different perspectives to be examined synergistically, and this is what we did”, said Bruno Fady. "This question was: how is genetic adaptation in tree species organised spatially, from within a forest stand to as far as the entire distribution range of a species?”
Bruno Fady also emphasized other elements that lead the project to success, such as a strong collaborative attitude of all partners, the scientific excellence of the consortium, a strong communication plan, and a dedicated management team.
“It was a challenge, a pleasure and an honor to coordinate such a project," he said.
This year, the ceremony was virtual and attended live on line by the audience, who could pose questions to the 12 laureates, coordinators of 12 different projects from very different fields.