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Working groups kicking off

Published: 16/12/2016
Participants of the meeting in Madrid. Photo: M.Bozzano/EUFORGEN

Three new EUFORGEN working groups recently met for the first time to get on track with the tasks assigned to them by the Steering Committee as key priorities of the fifth phase of the EUFORGEN programme.

The working group on the management of genetic conservation units network met in Rome, Italy, on 25-28 October. This group’s main task is to develop a decision tool to aid the management of the genetic conservation units’ network.

Members of the working group discussed the practicalities of the decision tool and three of its components: indicators describe the state of the forest; verifiers are the methods to measure the indicators and actions, the activities that should be implemented to react to identified threats. The tool will help managers responsible for the oversight of the network of genetic conservation units across Europe to take decisions to maintain and increase the effectiveness of the network. The group will continue to develop the tool at a second meeting in early autumn 2017.

The second working group, on forest reproductive material guidelines, had its first meeting in Madrid, Spain, on 15-18 November. This group will develop guidelines and decision support tools to enhance genetic diversity in the production and use of forest reproductive material. The meeting was held back-to-back with the GenTree stakeholders consultation in Madrid on 14-15 November, which touched upon similar topics and inspired diverse participants to discuss priorities for research, policy and practice.

The group reviewed the production chain of forest reproductive material. They analysed which steps have the most influence on genetic diversity, and are therefore most relevant to address in the guidelines. The group agreed that genetic aspects are important for many links in the chain of production, and that these links are managed by a broad range of professionals. For this reason, it will be important to create easy, understandable and dynamic guidelines that will appeal to various actors. These guidelines will be finalised at the next meeting in summer 2017.

Finally, the working group revising the genetic resources indicator met in Rome, Italy, on 28-30 November. The purpose of the meeting was to review Indicator 4.6 of the pan‐European criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, which expresses the genetic conservation efforts carried out in each country for the State of Europe’s Forests report. The indicator covers the conservation and utilization of forest tree genetic resources (in situ and ex situ) and the areas managed for seed production. Since the existing indicator does not reflect the complexities related to forest genetic diversity, the working group’s objective is to improve it.

The group managed to design an indicator that takes into account all the essential aspects that characterize forest genetic diversity across the European countries. These include the diversity of species, the number of genetic conservation units and their distribution across the species’ ranges.

The indicator builds on existing information from the EUFGIS information system and other databases making it easy to apply. The group also prepared a method to specify conservation targets for each country, which will make the individual countries’ progress easier to follow. The indicator will be presented and reviewed by the Steering Committee in mid-2017.

The minutes of the three meetings are available in this section.

Photos from the meetings