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Research has shown that the use in forestry of high quality reproductive material suited to the site in question is essential if the stability, disease resistance, adaptation, productivity and diversity of forests is to be increased.

In recognition of this, a Community scheme was set up in 1999 by Council Directive 1999/105/EC on the marketing of forest reproductive material, in light of the fact that forests cover a large area of the Community and have important social, environmental, economic and cultural roles.

The Directive ensures the plentiful supply of high quality forestry reproductive material of the species concerned within the Community by stipulating that forest reproductive material may not be marketed unless it is of one of four categories specified by the Directive and that only approved basic material (the trees from which reproductive material is harvested) may be used for its production if the material is to be marketed.

Basic material must be approved by an official body as fulfilling the minimum requirements laid down in the annex which corresponds to the category of forest reproductive material that the basic material is intended to produce. This approval is subject to regular re-inspection. The categories differ in the stringency of the quality criteria which must be fulfilled by material. In addition, all material must fulfil the conditions laid down in annex VII regarding species purity in lots of fruit and seed, 'fair marketable quality' of parts of plants, hybrids and planting stock as well as conditions specific to Populus spp.

All information on units of approval of basic material approved on a Member State's territory is held in a national register, including information about the area(s) in which the material is found or the exact geographic location (depending upon the category). This is crucial for determining whether any particular forest reproductive material is suitable for a site under consideration. A Community list Community list excel file is drawn up on the basis of the national lists, in order to ensure that the scheme operates smoothly across the whole of the Community. The unique register reference is shown on the master certificate issued by official bodies after harvesting for all reproductive material derived from approved basic material. Both are central in the provision of information and the tracing of material, thus enabling the strict production and marketing conditions stipulated by the Directive to be adhered to. Forest reproductive material coming from countries outside the Community may only be marketed within the Community if it provides the same assurances as Community material.

It should be noted that Community legislation has been in place since 1966 (former Council Directive 66/404/EEC). Where appropriate, the Commission is assisted by Member States in adopting measures related to Council Directive 1999/105/EC through the Standing Committee on Seeds and Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry.

More information on the role of the Community in the area of forest policy can be found here.

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