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4. Role of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education in conservation of forest genetic resources

The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (an independent national institute) has been working to introduce, collect and conserve plant genetic resources of mainly agricultural and horticultural species in India since 1976. Taking into consideration legal, political, economic and social issues, management of PGR has to be stratified, as these resources are imperative to sustainable development globally. The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, with eight research institutes and three advanced centres in various parts of the country. ICFRE caters to the needs of different biogeographical regions of the nation to increase the productivity through genetic and silvicultural improvement, treatment of wasteland and conservation of forest ecosystems. ICFRE has expertise and research collaboration with DANIDA and collaborative ventures with various international organizations, such as FAO, FORTIP (UNDP/FAO Regional Forest Tree Improvement Project), UNDP and World Bank on economically important species. ICFRE established a National Bureau of Forest Genetic Resources (NBFGR) with a wide network of regional institutes situated at various agroecological zones for germplasm collection, ex situ and in situ conservation as well as introduction and evaluation.

To reach the desired goals, the following priority areas for research have been identified (NFRP 2001):

• Develop mitigation strategies in forestry sector to reduce and store green house gases

• Research on upland watershed management (integrated soil and water conservation to check siltation and water scarcity and to boost afforestation)

• Research on reforestation of degraded lands and problematic soils (barren, mined, waste, water-logged and salt-affected lands, etc)

• Research on conservation, protection and sustainable development of existing forests to conserve biodiversity

• Increasing productivity of existing forests and future plantations through:

• High quality seed production

• Production and multiplication of site matched planting stock

• Improvement of species and varieties using traditional breeding methods and biotechnology

• Biological rejuvenation of lands using mycorrhizae and other useful microorganisms

• Research on multipurpose trees in farming systems

• Research on improved utilization of traditional wood and paper products, including improved recovery and processing

• Research on non-wood forest products, which provide sustenance to people and supply raw materials to a large number of forest-based industries

• Research on modern tools, equipment, techniques and operations for afforestation, logging and extraction of forest products

• Protection of forest from entomological and pathological problems

• Socioeconomic research for motivating farmers/land owners to adopt tree farming in a manner similar to crop-based farming

Research on policy strategies and combination of measures desired for enlarging the area under forest has included studies on property rights and land tenure, culture and gender issues involved in conservation, non-timber products, effects of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, legal and regulatory settings for forestry and other laws regulating tree felling, transportation and sales.

4.1. International Forest Genetic Resource Programme

ICFRE has established a National Bureau of Forest Genetic Resources (NBFGR) under its International Genetic Resource Programme, along the lines of the National Bureau of Plant Genetics Resources (NBPGR). ICFRE is managing the collection, documentation, evaluation and use of tree genetic resources available in India. ICFRE has established a similar line of action as established by the NBPGR, FAO, CIRAD, DANIDA, DFSC, FRED, FORTIP, World Bank-project and UNDP in promoting FGR research activities in India. ICFRE is interacting with various international organisations, such as the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) on specific issues related to FGR conservation.

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