EUFORGEN began with four pilot networks, on black poplar (Populus nigra), cork oak (Quercus suber), noble hardwoods and Norway spruce (Picea abies). A fifth network for social broadleaves (temperate oaks (Q. petraea and Q. robur) and beech (Fagus sylvatica)) was established in 1997.
Frequent network meetings brought together scientists and managers to exchange information and discuss needs and priorities, with most of the technical work carried out by network members between meetings.
Major outputs of Phase I included country reports with information on the status of genetic resources, research activities, methods, legislation, constraints, needs and priorities. The networks also developed genetic conservation strategies for several tree species and groups of species, along with technical guidelines and descriptors. The Populus nigra Network created a database of black poplar clones available in European countries as well as a core collection of clones.
The very existence of EUFORGEN helped to prompt member countries to develop national strategies for the conservation of FGR.
By the end of Phase I 28 countries had joined EUFORGEN and the networks had become dynamic platforms that facilitated regional collaboration on FGR.