Climate changes, also taking place in Poland, have a very negative impact on populations of many tree species. An example of a highly endangered and, at the same time, very valuable origin is the population of Norway spruce from Białowieża Primeval Forest. One of the protection methods a perishing population is to preserve its genetic pool in the form of seed orchards (ex situ method).
The genetic material of spruce mother trees from the Białowieża Primeval Forest has been preserved in a seed orchard with an area of 9.74 ha, established in 1996 in the Bielsk Forest District (approximately 35 km west of the Białowieża Primeval Forest). In December 2017, cones from all growing grafted trees were collected on a sample plot of 50 clones. An extensive analysis of the health of cones, seed yield from cones, parameters of cones and seeds was carried out, and the relationship between seed quality and position in the cone was determined. The number of cones on the analyzed trees ranged from 29 to 1766, with the average equal to 405 cones per clone. The greatest threat limiting seed production were insects that damaged seeds in cones. No dieback of grafted trees was recorded due to the presence of the spruce bark beetle. No dieback of grafted trees was detected as the effect of activity of European spruce bark beetle. The share of undamaged and poorly damaged cones amounted to about 88%. However, the average share of undamaged seeds is less than 50%.
Our surveys showed that the approximately 25-year-old plantation is able to give satisfying economic result and assure the preservation of the genetic pool of Norway spruce from the population of the Białowieża Forest.