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Global Plan of Action agreed for forest genetic resources

Published: 8/05/2013

The draft State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources (SoW-FGR) report was presented by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to the 14th Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), held in Rome, Italy on 15-19 April 2013. The draft report shows that the potential of forest genetic resources for alleviating poverty, enhancing food security and ensuring sustainable forest management remains largely unexplored.  Furthermore, the draft report reveals that further efforts are needed at national, regional and global levels to improve FGR conservation, to strengthen related research and development (R&D) work and to make available better information on these resources.

The CGRFA acknowledged the efforts made by FAO and extended its appreciation to those countries (85) which had submitted their country reports to this global assessment. Although these countries only account half of the CGRFA members, they represent more than 90 percent of the global forest area. The country reports will be published as annexes to the SoW-FGR report, which will be finalized by the end of 2013.

The CGRFA also reviewed draft strategic priorities for action to improve the situation and agreed on them as the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of FGR. The FAO Conference is expected to adopt the Global Plan of Action at its next session on 15-22 June 2013. The CGRFA requested FAO to develop an implementation strategy for the Global Plan of Action and noted that the mobilization of financial resources is necessary to support developing countries in the implementation efforts.

The strategic priorities were prepared by the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Forest Genetic Resources (ITWG-FGR) and they are grouped into four priority areas, 1) improving the availability and access to information on FGR, 2) conservation of FGR, 3) sustainable use, development and management of FGR, and 4) policies, institutions and capacity building. The strategic priorities are in line with the earlier commitments countries have made under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), including the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Therefore, the implementation of the Global Plan of Action will also contribute towards achieving the CDB goals and targets.

Regional networks and programmes, such as EUFORGEN, play an important role in facilitating the implementation of the Global Plan of Action. In Europe, the strategic priorities are also in line with the resolutions of the FOREST EUROPE process related to forest genetic resources. The past and ongoing activities of EUFORGEN contribute directly to several strategic priorities that were identified for the regional level, such as development of regional conservation strategies, harmonization of technical standards for FGR inventories, establishment of information systems on FGR, facilitating exchange of genetic material for R&D and encouraging information sharing.

The report of the 14th CGRFA session, the draft SoW-FGR report, the strategic priorities and other background documents are available on the FAO website. The meeting was also covered by the IISD Reporting Services.