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New report on access and rights to forest genetic resources

Published: 20/07/2011

The Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway published recently a new report titled as “Seeking Appropriate Legislation Regulating Access and Exclusive Rights to Forest Genetic Resources in the Nordic Region”. The report presents the findings of a project implemented in collaboration with NordGen Forest and with financial support from the Nordic Council of Ministers.  It also provides interesting examples on the use of forest genetic resources in the forest sector and related legal issues.

This report concludes that the current national laws dealing with forest genetic resources have some differences but so far, they have not caused any problems for exchanging these resources. Of the countries studied, Norway has the most specific legal regulation of property rights to genetic resources in general. The Norwegian Nature Diversity Act (2009) states that “‘Genetic material from nature is a common resource and belongs to the community of Norway, which is managed by the government.”  According to the report, it is not yet clear what the legal consequences of this Act are, and how it will be applied in practice. 

Regarding the new Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing, the report notes that its implementation may affect the present non-bureaucratic system of access to forest genetic resources. The Nagoya Protocol has no exceptions for the forest sector and thus it will also regulate access and exchange of forest reproductive material.  Subsequently, the report recommends that it is in the interest of the forest sector to follow the post-Nagoya negotiation process on how the Protocol will be actually implemented in the future.

The report can be downloaded from the Fridtjof Nansen Institute website.