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Global report on forest genetic resources released

Published: 13/06/2014

Last week, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) released the first-ever State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources report. This global report was developed based on the data provided by 86 countries, covering over 85% of the global forest area, and several thematic studies commissioned by FAO.

According to the report, about 2360 forest species (trees, shrubs, palms and bamboos) are currently actively managed around the world for the products and services they provided.  These species represent only about 3% of the total number tree species (80,000-100,000). The report also notes that genetic resources of only 700 tree species (less than 1%) are actively improved through selection or breeding.  This demonstrates that many countries are poorly aware of the importance of forest genetic resources in improving forest production and maintaining forest ecosystems. The report reveals that management of forest genetic resources is often poorly integrated with relevant national policies.

FAO urges countries to take action to improve conservation and sustainable management of forest genetic resources. In particular, countries should:

  1. Improve the availability, and access to, information on forest genetic resources,
  2. Improve both in situ and ex situ conservation of these resources, 
  3. Improve sustainable use of the resources, and 
  4. Strengthen policies and institutional capacities. 

The global report highlights the EUFGIS Portal and the EUFORGEN programme as models for information systems and regional collaboration, respectively, on forest genetic resources.

In 2013, the FAO Conference adopted the Global Plan of Action on forest genetic resources that presents strategic priorities for future work at the national, regional and global levels to improve the situation.  The FAO Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Forest Genetic Resources will meet on 7-9 July 2014 to discuss the implementation strategy of the Global Plan of Action. Furthermore, the 22nd Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry will also discuss the Global Plan of Action and the findings of the global report on 23-27 June 2014.