Experiment: CSI Trees: climate adapted trees for the future

Toward a measured, empirically determined tree classification system based on measured stress responses under controlled glasshouse conditions. Within the scope of this 2-year project, the method will be developed. This preliminary research leads to a validated methodology that eventually leads to a classification of urban trees for different planting sites. In April 2022, a two-year preliminary study was launched in a public-private partnership on this topic: CSI Trees: climate trees with future.

Experiment Aim

Phenotyping in collaboration with NPEC is one of the work packages of “CSI Trees: climate trees for the future”. The goal is to use a targeted search profile to find climate adaptive tree species that fit our Dutch future urban climate. To achieve this overarching goal, the Dutch urban climate is mapped in high resolution. From this, local climate zone (LCZ) maps are created. These are linked to the climate zones where we want to find new genetic material in the specific biome (taxon). This material will be introduced in accordance with the applicable legal regulations (notably the Nagoya protocol).

The existing urban tree species and the new candidate city trees are then phenotyped at NPEC to measure the stress-response to offered drought stress. Each tree species has different physiological and morphological capabilities to cope with prolonged drought stress. In the Netherlands, those prolonged periods of very limited natural precipitation are expected yearly between April and September in the future. This period corresponds entirely to the growing season.

We are mapping those insights to then classify the tree species for different sites in the city. For these different situations, we group different kinds of ‘ideotypes’.

Intra-specifically, the research will lead to classification of various cultivars within a species. For forest plants, it provides opportunities to compare various seed provenances.

Inter-specifically, the research will lead to a substantiated classification of various trees used in the urban environment.

NPEC Usage

Taking into account the purpose of the project, we chose the whole plant functional-phenotyping method, which was developed by an Israeli AgTech company (PlantDiTech). The technique is based on the tight control of pre-selected soil-water scenarios, as well as continuous quantitative monitoring of the soil-plant-atmosphere water relations, including the simultaneous monitoring of several physiological parameters across a population of plants. It is expected that this screening will reveal a few lines with different responses to urban drought scenarios.

Experiment Researchers


  • Wageningen University & Research
  • Drs. Marc Ravesloot
  • Dr. Lydia Meesters
  • Dr. Lucas Schultz

In cooperation with Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Dr. Menachem Moshelion
  • Dr. Amir Mayo

More information