EUFORGEN Steering Committee met in Tallinn
National Coordinators from EUFORGEN member countries gathered to Tallinn, Estonia for the ninth meeting of the Steering Committee on 3-5 December 2013. The meeting was opened by Mr. Marku Lamp, Vice-Chancellor for forestry and nature conservation at the Ministry of Environment, Estonia.
The Steering Committee started its meeting by discussing the new Global Plan of Action for forest genetic resources (GPA-FGR), which was adopted by the FAO Conference in June 2013. The National Coordinators noted that the past and ongoing EUFORGEN activities are in line with most strategic priorities identified in the GPA-FGR at the regional level. The Steering Committee concluded that EUFORGEN should contribute to the implementation of the GPA-FGR in Europe and continue its collaboration with FAO in this regard.
The Steering Committee then reviewed the progress made in 2013, the financial status of the Programme and updated the work plan for 2014, which is the final year of Phase IV. Three EUFORGEN working groups presented their final reports in Tallinn for further comments and adoption. The reports focused on 1) development of a pan-European genetic conservation strategy for forest trees, 2) development of a genetic monitoring system for dynamic conservation units of forest trees, and 3) identifying critical issues related to the use and transfer of forest reproductive material in the context of climate change. The Steering Committee expressed its appreciation to the members of the working groups and other experts who had provided inputs to the reports. The Steering Committee adopted the three reports with some additional comments and requested the EUFORGEN Secretariat, in collaboration with the working groups, to finalize the reports for publication in spring 2014.
Two other working groups, one focusing on further development of genetic conservation methods in the context of climate change and another on policy issues related to conservation and use of forest genetic resources, also presented their updates to the Steering Committee. The working groups held their first meetings in 2013 and they will meet again in early 2014. Draft reports of both groups will presented to the Steering Committee in June 2014.
The Steering Committee members exchanged views on the draft EU Regulation for rural development and the new EU Forest Strategy. National Coordinators from Greece and Hungary informed others that preparations have been started in their country to seek funding for conservation of forest genetic resources as part of forestry measures to be included in the new rural development programmes. Other National Coordinators reported that relevant ministries in their countries have not yet started preparing new rural development programmes. Some even noted, disappointingly, that their ministries have already indicated that no forestry measures will be included into new rural development programmes although conservation of forest genetic resources is specifically mentioned, for the first time, as an eligible forestry measure. The Steering Committee encouraged all National Coordinators in the EU Member States to continue discussions with relevant ministries on the possibility of including measures on forest genetic resources into the new rural development programmes.
The National Coordinators also exchanged views on the future of EUFORGEN. Many noted that the Programme has made significant progress during Phase IV and that pan-European collaboration on forest genetic resources is still needed. The Steering Committee decided to establish a task force to analyze future needs and identify possible follow-up activities. National Coordinators from France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Slovenia and Turkey were selected to the task force which will collect further inputs from other National Coordinators during spring 2014. The task force was requested to prepare, in collaboration with the EUFORGEN Secretariat, a detailed proposal on Phase V (2015-2019) and present it to the 10th meeting of the Steering Committee (16-18 June 2014) for further discussion and decision.