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ROME, ITALY, 6–10 MAY 1974


The FAO Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources was established in accordance with the directives of the Fourteenth Session of the FAO Conference (November 1967), which read as follows:

“244. Forest Tree Genetic Resources. The Conference requested the Director-General to take into account Recommendation No. 62 of document C 67/AG/FO/1 in formulating the Programme of Work and Budget for 1970–71. It recognized that as development proceeds in the less as in the more advanced areas of the world, the reserves of genetic variation stored in the natural forests have been or are being displaced on an increasing scale. Moreover, efforts to explore and collect forest genetic resources were, on a world scale, inadequate and inadequately concerted.

“245. The Conference requested the Director-General to establish a panel of experts on Forest Gene Resources to help plan and coordinate FAO's efforts to explore, utilize and conserve the gene resources of forest trees and, in particular, help prepare a detailed short-term programme and draft a long-term programme for FAO's action in this field and to provide information to Member Governments”.

The Director-General established the Panel in 1968. Each member serves for a period of four years. A list of current members of the Panel appears in Appendix 1.

The Panel held its first session in Rome in October 1968 and its second in Macon, Georgia, in March 1971. Reports of both sessions have been published (FAO 1969, FAO 1972).

The third session of the Panel was held at FAO, Rome from 6–10 May 1974. Members attending were:

R. Morandini (Chairman, Italy)
M. Hagman (Vice-Chairman, Finland)
W.H.C. Barrett (Argentina)
D.A.N. Cromer (Australia)
W.C. Dyson (E.A. Community)
R.C. Ghosh (India)
M.J. Groulez (France)
D.E. Iyamabo (Nigeria)
L. Jones (U.S.A.)
H. Keiding (Denmark)
R.H. Kemp (U.K.)
R. Villarreal (Mexico)

Members of FAO's Forest Management Branch who attended were O. Fugalli, R.L. Willan, Miss C. Palmberg and D.A. Harcharik. R.J. Pichel and D.J. Rogers (AGPE) attended part of the session (see p. 17).

The Panel unanimously elected Professor R. Morandini as Chairman and Professor M. Hagman as Vice Chairman. The Agenda adopted appears in Appendix 7.


A. General

1. To International Organisations

(1) The Panel recommended that the sum of US$ 40 000 which was available under FAO's Regular Programme for seed procurement in the 1974/75 biennium, should be used as follows:

  1. US$ 10 000 to the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales (INIF) Mexico for further collections of Mexican conifers and Populus

  2. US$ 3 000 to the FAO/UNDP project for integrated establishment of forestry research in Brazil (BRA/71/545) for seed collection of tropical hardwoods, especially in Amazonia.

  3. US$ 1 000 to the Working Group for Procurement of Seed for International Provenance Research of the International Union of Forestry Research Organisations (IUFRO), for conifers in Western North America.

  4. US$ 1 500 to the Committee for Coordination of Mediterranean Forestry Research for continuation of provenance sampling of Mediterranean conifers, with particular reference to Pinus brutia, P. halepensis and P. nigra.

  5. US$ 5 000 to suitable institutes in West Africa, for exploration and collection of tropical hardwoods in that region.

  6. US$ 15 000 to the Forest Research Institute, FRI, Canberra, for further collections of the genus Eucalyptus throughout its natural range and other genera in Australia, and for collections of Araucaria spp. and Eucalyptus deglupta in Papua New Guinea and other parts of the East Indies.

  7. US$ 4 500 to other institutes as may be determined.

(2) The Panel recommended that the new International Board for Plant Genetic Resources should give high priority to the implementation of a global programme in forest genetic resources. After suitable amendment in the light of the Panel's discussions, the documents FO:FGR/3/4 (full proposals) and FO:FGR/3/6 (Summary proposals) would form a suitable basis for the global programme and should be presented to the IBPGR. These proposals constitute a balanced programme and allow for considerable flexibility in detail and for the provision of finance from a number of different international, as well as bilateral, sources.

(3) The Panel noted that the funds available under FAO's Regular Programme were still far short of the sum of $140 000 per biennium, proposed at its first session in 1968, and had been reduced in 1974/75, compared with 1972/73. The Panel considered that, as a result of inflation and of the accelerated destruction of forest ecosystems which had occurred since 1968 and which necessitated a big increase in efforts for conservation, a sum of $250 000 per biennium was a realistic minimum figure for current expenditure on field operations.

While reiterating its opinion that the best way of achieving a better use of forest genetic resources was through a global programme, to which a number of different international and national organisation should contribute (cf.recommendation(2) above), the Committee recommended that, if such a programme did not become effective by 1976, FAO should endeavour to increase its own regular programme allocation substantially, up to $250 000 per biennium.

(4) The Panel welcomed the interest expressed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in conservation of forest genetic resources and the short-term study-project “Methodology of Conservation of Forest Genetic Resources” funded by UNEP and to be implemented by FAO. It endorsed the proposed outline of the report to be prepared as a result of the study. It recommended the development of a long-term plan of action for the conservation of forest genetic resources, in which FAO should cooperate with UNEP and with other organisations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the International Union of Forestry Research Organisations (IUFRO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

(5) The Panel, noting the great value and the previous lack of training in the special problems of forest genetic resources, recommended that high priority be given to the training component in future programmes.

(6) The Panel noted with gratification that field projects under the United Nations Development Programme had continued active cooperation in international seed procurement, notably in the case of the collections of Araucaria angustifolia made by project BRA/71/545 in Brazil, and recommended that cooperation by individual projects should be continued and expanded.

(7) The Panel recommended that FAO should continue and intensify its cooperation in genetic resources work with other international organisations, including UNEP, IUCN, UNESCO in its Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme, IUFRO, the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

(8) The Panel welcomed the publication of “Forest Genetic Resources Information”, which had been produced by FAO in response to a recommendation made by the Panel at its Second Session and of which the first three numbers had appeared in the past 18 months and noted the favourable response received from many readers. It recommended that FAO make every effort to achieve a still wider distribution, especially in Latin America and Eastern Europe.

(9) The Panel recommended the production of maps showing distribution of major species and locations of provenance seed collections, as a record, to be periodically up-dated, of the extent to which species variability had been sampled. As a first step the Panel requested CFI Oxford and FRI Canberra to collaborate in producing guidelines for the format of such maps and for the collection data to accompany them.

(10) The Panel endorsed the proposal of IUFRO's Division 2 that CFI Oxford, in close collaboration with IUFRO Working Parties S2.01.5 and S2.03.3, should prepare a simple set of guidelines on the rapid establishment and management of seed production areas of locally adapted provenances of exotic species in developing countries, and recommended that a request should be sent to CFI to undertake this important work.

2. To Governments

(1) The Panel noted the alarming increase in the destruction of forests, especially in the tropics, since its first session. In reiterating the need for immediate action for conservation, the Panel recommended that governments take the lead in implementing effective conservation measures in their own countries as a matter of extreme urgency.

(2) The Panel recommended that in situ conservation of forest genetic resources as part of natural ecosystems should be carried out wherever possible. It urged governments to ensure that conservation areas were of sufficient size to constitute viable units and that adequate resources in staff and finance were made available for effective protection.

(3) The Panel recognised that in certain circumstances conservation in situ may be impracticable. In such cases, it recommended that early action be taken for the collection of seed and the establishment of provenance conservation stands ex situ of important species.

(4) The Panel noted with gratification the continuation of several valuable bilateral aid projects such as those of the Centre Technique Forestier Tropical in France, the Forest Tree Seed Centre at Humlebaek, Denmark, and the Commonwealth Forestry Institute at Oxford in the U.K. It repeated its previous recommendation that additional donor countries should consider this type of bilateral assistance, which can be of immense benefit to many developing countries.

B. Technical and Operational

(1) The Panel welcomed the recent increase of interest in problems of seed physiology and handling, as shown by the 1973 I.U.F.R.O. Bergen meeting on “Seed Problems”. It recommended that research should be intensified, particularly in the tropics, not only on seed physiology and handling, but also on flowering and reproductive systems, about which little is known.

(2) The Panel welcomed the continuing publication of monographs on individual species, such as those of the United States Forest Service, the Forestry and Timber Bureau in Australia, and the Commonwealth Forestry Institute. It recommended that research institutes continue to summarise information in the form of monographs and give them wide circulation.

(3) The Panel repeated its previous recommendation that information on mechanised equipment for seed procurement be summarised and published at an early date. It expressed the hope that the FAO/DANIDA Forest Tree Seed Centre would accept responsibility for this work, as a follow-up to the Training Course on Forest Seed Collection and Handling to be held in Thailand early in 1975.


The Panel reviewed progress made since its second session in March 1971. Progress in exploration and collection of individual species is shown in Appendix 3. While individual members of the Panel were able to give up-to-date reports on the countries with which they were familiar, it is certain that information is far from complete, especially with regard to eastern Europe and N.E. Asia. No attempt has been made to include national efforts in seed procurement which are for purely internal use, nor routine purchase and sale of seed in commercial quantities.


Since 1971 the Forest Research Institute in Canberra has carried out 11 major seed-collecting expeditions, lasting 3–10 weeks. The FAO financial allocation has been used to cover travel costs and daily subsistence allowance, while staff salaries and other expenditure have been paid from Australian funds. 186 kg of Eucalyptus, 105 kg of Araucaria and smaller quantities of seed of Acacia, Casuarina and Callitris were collected. Accounts of operations have been published [Turnbull 1973 (a), 1974, FAO 1973 (a)].

In Portuguese Timor 8 provenances of E. urophylla (syn. E. “decaisneana”) were collected at elevations between 700 m and 2 900 m above sea level. These complemented earlier collections which were all made at elevations below 1800 m.

On the Australian mainland a large part of the work was concentrated in tropical and sub-tropical areas, often in uninhabited areas. Repeat collections were made of the Lake Albacutya provenance of Eucalyptus camaldulensis, which has shown such promise in the Mediterranean, and of neighbouring provenances in the same area.

FRI cooperated closely with the one year long expedition carried out by the Centre Technique Forestier Tropical in France, provided seed clearing facilities and in return received half of each seed lot collected. This is available for distribution overseas.

In 1974/75 a cooperative effort is planned with the Forestry Department of Papua New Guinea, for collection of Eucalyptus deglupta, Araucaria cunninghamii and A. hunsteinii. On the Australian mainland, the main emphasis will be on provenances in the arid zones and on high altitude and coastal provenances in New South Wales and Victoria.

The seed store in Canberra now holds in stock research quantities of seed of 370 species of eucalypt, including 20 provenances of E. tereticornis and 85 of E. camaldulensis. This seed is available at a small cost.

In 1974 committees were set up in each State to advise the State governments on the needs and methods of conservation of forest genetic resources. Some species have a restricted range and special measures for conservation may be necessary.


During the past three years the Danish/FAO Forest Tree Seed Centre has continued operations in S.E. Asia and has given top priority to teak (Tectona grandis). Nearly 70 provenances have been collected and distributed to 17 cooperating countries for trial. They included a number of land races from exotic plantations (Danish/FAO Tree Seed Centre 1973). Difficulties encountered were low germination or protracted dormancy; some provenances germinated in the first year after sowing, others not until the second year, rendering it impossible to use comparable material for all provenances under test.

In Pinus merkusii/P. merkusiana, a good range of provenances was collected in Thailand, with the assistance of the Thai/Danish pine improvement centre. Very little viable seed was collected of the Sumatran races, which are potentially of more interest because they do not pass through a “grass-stage”; only small quantities of seed are produced and seed ripens throughout the year, which makes collection difficult and expensive (Keiding 1973).

Pinus kesiya collections have been postponed until preliminary results from the international trials of the 1969 Philippines collections are available.

Gmelina arborea is another high priority species which is of interest to many tropical countries. A major seed collection effort is planned for 1975, with the cooperation of countries in S.E. Asia.

The small staff of the seed centre has continued to give ad hoc advice on tree improvement and seed handling to a number of developing countries and played a major part in the FAO/DANIDA training course on forest tree improvement in Kenya in 1973 (FAO 1974).

East Africa

Production forestry has concentrated on exotic softwoods for the highland areas above 1 500 m. A programme of tree breeding for Cupressus lusitanica, Pinus patula and P. radiata was started a decade ago. Establishment of production seed orchards of the first two species is now complete, but Pinus radiata orchards were delayed by the need to select and test clones for resistance to Dothistroma needle-blight. Sufficient resistance has been found to enable resumption of planting of at least the seasonally dry sites. Orchards of the more resistant clones were planted in 1974 and should be completed in 1975. Future planting of this species, however, remains uncertain because other disease problems have appeared.

Below 1 500 m other species of pine will be needed. International provenance trials of Pinus caribaea, P. oocarpa and P. merkusii have been planted, while older trials exist of P. oocarpa and P. patula from the 1969 collections of NORAD/EAAFRO. Tanzania has contributed seed to the international provenance trial of Tectona. A project for accelerated development of seed stands and seed orchards, to be financed by U.K., is now under consideration.

Uganda has developed a system of in situ forest ecosystem conservation, whereby one compartment (of variable size, but average about 400 ha) within every forest reserve is maintained as a nature reserve. There are over 70. Felling is prohibited and management is limited to essential measures such as the restriction of big game, but traditional rights of local residents and bona fide travellers are preserved. Survey has shown that a number of Uganda trees are endemic in only one forest reserve, e.g. Budongo has 4 species unique to Budongo, Semliki has 8 species unique to Semliki.

Kenya has 4 nature reserves within forest reserve which are fully gazetted and 12 more such areas in process of gazettement. The coverage of vegetation types is, as yet, less complete than in Uganda, but the legal regulations regarding nature reserves in Kenya provide the means for ensuring more effective protection against all human interference. Tanzania has recently accepted the principle that nature reserves need to be set aside in every forest reserve, but at present these are restricted to an area of 10 ha each.

Seriously endangered species which require exceptional measures are Caesalpinia dalei (may already be extinct), Stuhlmannia moavi (thought to have become extinct but recently re-collected) and Tecleopsis glandulosa (c.20 trees left).

IUCN is at present engaged in an operation to ensure the selection and conservation of representative areas of endangered vegetation types in East Africa. It may be able to assist governments with funds to cover costs of maintenance (demarcation, patrolling etc.).

Kenya now has the necessary organization to certify agricultural seeds to OECD specification. The organization does not handle tree seed at present, but could be extended to provide inspection and certification for tree seed if required.


The Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, of which the Headquarters are in France, conducts research or gives technical assistance to research programmes in a number of francophone countries - Cameroon, Congo Republic, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, New Caledonia, Niger, Senegal and Upper Volta. In the field of exploration/collection, a major effort financed by CTFT was the recent year-long collecting expedition to Australia, in which close cooperation was maintained between CTFT and FRI, Canberra. Research quantities of seed were collected from 3,082 mother-trees of 489 provenances of 174 species. Half the seed was left with FRI Canberra. Emphasis was given to high-yielding provenances of eucalypts for humid equatorial areas and to arid zone provenances; important species collected were Eucalyptus tereticornis, E. camaldulensis, E. brassiana, E. cloeziana, E. grandis, E. andrewsii, E. nesophylla and a number of provenances of Araucaria cunninghamii and A. bidwillii. Seeds were also collected in Portuguese Timor and the Sunda Islands, of E. alba and E. urophylla and further collections were made in Papua New Guinea. A full report, with lists of provenances collected, was being prepared in mid-1974.

Conservation in situ has proved difficult in Africa, since the “freezing” as nature reserves of large areas which contain valuable export species able to earn foreign exchange is often unacceptable politically. Though extinction of any entire species is not imminent, genetic impoverishment of certain provenances as a result of overcutting is widespread. Most efforts to establish protective reserves have been concentrated on “Limba”, the Terminalia superba sources with superior wood qualities.

Many provenance trials in a number of different countries were reported at the second session of the panel (FAO 1972). Species included are Aucoumea klaineana, Cedrela odorata, Eucalyptus spp., Pinus caribaea, P. oocarpa, Tectona grandis, T. superba. Since then a new set of trials of Terminalia ivorensis has been established in Ivory Coast. In Tectona local land races have shown superiority so far.

Seed from the fast-growing Madagascar eucalypt, 12 ABL, proved the most successful of the initial introductions on savanna sites in Congo. Second generation plantations, however, which were planted for seed stands, had 30 – 40 percent mortality and a high incidence of dwarfing, indicating inbreeding depression as a result of the close relationship between the seed-trees introduced in the first place. More systematic introduction of a range of provenances of E. tereticornis (to which 12 ABL is thought to belong) from Australia is now under way. Similar examples of dwarfing due to segregation in F2 generation have occurred with EucalyptusC” (ex Zanzibar) in East Africa.

It was reported that research is now being conducted in Congo with a view to the production of a form of Eucalyptus called PFI, to which E. urophylla and E. alba probably contribute, and of a hybrid E. camaldulensis × E. saligna, forms of particular promise for production of high yields on short rotations in low altitude tropical savannas.

Doubts have been expressed as to the wood quality of Pinus patula which grows well in Madagascar at 900–1, 200 m and has been established over an area of 25 000 ha. Other species, including P. kesiya, may be preferred for their superior strength properties.


India has an enormous diversity of conditions, and numerous vegetation types, grouped in 16 major groups (Champion and Seth 1968), have been recorded. Some 200 preservation plots exist within forest reserves which could form a basis for gene pool conservation. An Advisory Board on Conservation of Forest Genetic Resources is being established and a list of endangered species prepared. Dalbergia latifolia (Rosewood) which occurs only as scattered trees in the forest, is rapidly disappearing from agricultural land and so also Juglans regia. Both these species are in need of special protective measures. Pterocarpus dalbergioides is being exploited in the Andamans islands but there are large areas and this is the time for action to conserve an adequate gene pool of the species in situ.

In evaluation, international provenance trials of Pinus caribaea, P. oocarpa and P. kesiya have been planted recently and there are older national provenance trials in Pinus roxburghii, Tectona grandis and Eucalyptus camaldulensis. India contributed a large number of provenances to the international trials of Tectona described above (see under Denmark).

Considerable progress has been made in improving genetic utilisation of some species. 238 seed production areas, covering about 500 ha, have been established, while 242 plus trees of teak and 45 of Bombax ceiba have been selected. Germ plasm banks of both species have been established.


Overall technical cooperation between countries is provided through the FAO Committee for coordination of Mediterranean Forestry Research.

In exploration and collection, the main emphasis has been on Pinus brutia and P. halepensis. An account of variation of P. brutia in Turkey has been published (Arbez 1974). With the assistance of funds from FAO's Regular Programme, seed of 16 provenances of Pinus brutia, 28 of P. halepensis and 2 of P. eldarica has been collected from a number of countries in the Mediterranean and stored at the Istituto Sperimentale per la Selvicoltura in Florence, which directed the collecting operations. The seed will be distributed for international provenance trials in the latter half of 1974.

Further provenance collections planned are of Abies cephalonica in Greece and of Pinus nigra (sensu lato) throughout its range.

A successful provenance trial of Eucalyptus camaldulensis from the 1965 seed collection has revealed the superiority of the Lake Albacutya provenance for most Mediterranean sites (Lacaze 1970, FAO 1973 b). Individual selection within the provenance is now proceeding. Other provenance trials are in progress in Larix europaea, Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies and Abies alba. In the first 3 species, the most easterly provenances have shown clear superiority.

Endangered species are Abies nebrodensis (21 trees left) and Cupressus dupreziana (84 trees left). Certain provenances of other species are endangered by agricultural development, fire or tourism.

About 300 stands, mainly coniferous, have been selected for production of improved seed. Extensive seed orchards of Pseudotsuga menziesii have been established in France. An interesting new development in international cooperation is the agreement for Sweden and Denmark to establish seed orchards in France and Italy in order to benefit from the heavier flowering and seed production induced by the Mediterranean climate.

Quality control of forest seed moving between the EEC countries has been achieved through the adoption by all 9 member countries of a (compulsory) seed certification scheme. A similar but voluntary scheme proposed for members of the OECD has been agreed by all member countries, but implemented by only a few.


Since the present administration took office in 1971, a new programme of National Forestry Development has been drawn up and funds for the seed bank and forest genetic resources work at INIF have been increased to US$ 750 000 a year. The objectives are to collect bulk seed supplies for national afforestation projects and for sale to private individuals or companies, to conserve endangered species in situ, to collect seed of endangered species or populations for conservation ex situ and to supply source-identified provenance seed collections to other countries.

The Tree Improvement Working Party of the North American Forestry Commission has drawn up the following list of endangered species in Mexico, which require special measures for protection:

Picea chihuahuana
P. mexicana
Pinus maximartinezii
P. rzedowsky
P. strobus var. chiapensis
Populus monticola
P. tremuloides
Pseudotsuga flahaulti
P. macrolepis

With financial assistance from FAO, it has been possible over the past three seasons to collect research quantities of seed of the following numbers of provenances, for international provenance research:

Pinus oocarpa15
P. patula  5
Pinus pseudostrobus  5
P. strobus var. chiapensis  4

Research on vegetative propagation of Populus has started.


Preparations have been made to start exploration and collection of tropical hardwoods this year. Seed storage space has been doubled and a seed collecting team assembled. The FAO funds allocated in 1973 have been carried forward for use in 1974. Particular attention will be paid to the genera Triplochiton, Chlorophora, Khaya and Entandrophragma, distinct provenances of which have not yet been identified.

11 strict nature reserves have been in existence for a number of years but care and maintenance of some of these have been inadequate and their number has now been reduced to 7. Nigeria is cooperating in the UNESCO MAB 8 project “Conservation of Natural Areas and of the Genetic Material they Contain”, and a member of the Federal Department of Forest Research is a member of the National Committee.

Nigeria is taking part in a number of international provenance trials, including E. camaldulensis and E. tereticornis, Pinus caribaea, P. oocarpa, Cedrela odorata and Tectona grandis. A large seed orchard of Tectona is now being established from the best Nigerian phenotypes, but these may all be derived from a single original introduction. Current provenance trials should result in broadening the genetic base.

Difficulties have arisen in obtaining bulk supplies of seed from abroad. This applies particularly to tropical pines. Adequate supplies of Eucalyptus seed can be obtained from Australia.

The tree improvement project, based at Ibadan and financed by the Overseas Development Ministry of the U.K., has concentrated on Terminalia ivorensis and Triplochiton scleroxylon. Research has been carried out on vegetative propagation and on collection, handling storage and germination of seed. The low viability of seed of Triplochiton presents a serious problem.


Species are few and numbers of individuals per species are large. Natural regeneration is still common in many areas, which assists the conservation of local gene pools, although the long distance travelled by pollen prevents complete isolation. Seed production areas are well scattered over the region, so as to conserve diversity. As an example, there are 7 000 ha of Pinus sylvestris and 5 000 ha of Picea abies improved seed stands in Finland. An additional safeguard of variation is the maintenance of “standard stands” which are natural unimproved stands representative of the various ecological zones and used as sources of unimproved seed for comparison with the improved seed stands (Hagman 1973). Seed orchards, of which 4000 – 5000 ha now exist in the Nordic countries, serve to conserve a large number of selected clones. In general, therefore, existing conservation measures for indigenous genetic resources are adequate.

Much work has been done on introduced species and provenances. Species from the Pacific north-west of N. America are best suited to western (oceanic) Scandinavia, while species from the Far East show most promise in eastern (continental) Scandinavia. It is hoped to arrange seed collecting expeditions to N. Korea and China, with the cooperation of the host governments. Liaison is also maintained with foresters in the USSR, where exploitation is already endangering southern and western provenances of Siberian larch.

Central European provenances of Picea abies have grown better in Scandinavia than the indigenous ones. This has led to a successful cooperative effort between Scandinavian and host foresters, to select seed stands for export in Rumania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and White Russia. Pinus sylvestris seed can be moved less easily, but seed from inland southern USSR is growing well in the Baltic Region of Scandinavia. Biochemical studies of terpene variation in P. sylvestris show promise as a means of identifying introduced provenances of unknown origin.

South America

Provenance research on Araucaria angustifolia has increased. The earlier experiments planted in 1954 and 1967 in Brazil have indicated significant differences between provenances (Gurgel Filho and Gurgel 1972). A more recent experiment in Argentina, now 3 years old, is designed to evaluate differences between individuals of the same provenance, as well as between provenances. The most recent provenance collection was made in Brazil in 1973; 5 provenances were distributed to 6 countries outside Brazil, while the full range of 18 provenances is being tested in Brazil (Pitcher 1973). While the species as a whole is not considered endangered, certain of the outlying populations, especially at the northerly limit of the range, may be in danger of extinction or of severe genetic erosion.

Sufficient genetic variation in Araucaria araucana is expected to be maintained by its widespread use as a garden ornamental. More intensive breeding work to promote its use in plantations is not justified, since higher yielding exotics such as Pinus radiata are well adapted to grow on the same sites.

Provenance trials of exotics are reported from Argentina. In Pinus patula both between tree and between provenance variation is being investigated in 16 provenances. Large differences between provenances of P. elliottii var. densa have been demonstrated and on certain sites height growth of the best provenance after 5 years is 20% greater than that of the commonly planted var. elliottii.

Work still needs to be initiated on a number of the indigenous species in South America, such as Dalbergia nigra and Caesalpinia echinata in the drier areas and many species in the tropical moist forests.

In Argentina 25 000 ha of plantations of Eucalyptus grandis have been established from an original seed introduction from only 8 trees. No inbreeding depression has been noted, although some plantations are now in the third generation.


The Unit of Tropical Silviculture, financed by the Overseas Development Ministry and based at CFI Oxford, has continued to concentrate seed-collecting activities on Central American pines.

In Pinus caribaea collections made in 1970 and 1971 completed the sampling of the natural range for the international provenance trials, which were started in 1971 (Kemp 1973 a). Since then seed collection of this species has been planned to obtain larger quantities of seed for gene conservation in seed banks and conservation stands. Attention was directed first to the edge of the geographical and ecological ranges, where populations are in some danger of depletion, or even extinction. Poor seed years and delays in recruitment have slowed progress, but there are now two research officers working in Central America throughout the collecting seasons. The present project is due to end in March 1975, but when the results of the 1974 season are known consideration will be given to extending it until September, 1975, to cover another full season for P. caribaea.

In Pinus oocarpa international provenance trials were started in 1971, based on seed collections in 1970 and 1971 seasons (Kemp 1973 b). Since then seed collection has been directed to obtaining larger quantities of seed from some localities, particularly at the southern extreme of the range in Nicaragua. Compared with P. caribaea the distribution is more continuous, without the discontinuities and extreme ecological differences that make stratification of the range of P. caribaea much easier for sampling. For this reason twelve new provenances have been added since 1971, in addition to repeat collections from localities sampled earlier, sometimes to extend the altitudinal coverage. A total of thirty collections have been made in the three year period, amounting to a total of about 112 kilograms.

Ten collections have been obtained of Pinus pseudostrobus and P. tenuifolia and it is intended to start international provenance trials after further sampling in 1974. Some populations of P. pseudostrobus are being rapidly destroyed through land clearance for agriculture accompanied or followed by fire.

The greater part of the 1972/73 FAO allocation to CFI Oxford for seed collection has been carried forward to 1974/75, hence no new allocation is considered necessary in this biennium.

More than 600 herbarium specimens and 500 resin samples, sometimes with correlated wood samples, have so far been collected in the course of the project. P. oocarpa in particular is a highly variable species and there are indications that the terpene analysis may assist with identification of exotic populations of unknown origin. Studies of seed proteins have also been started to determine whether reliable methods can be developed to identify seed origin from examination of the seed itself. An attempt is also being made to sample the populations of mycorrhizal fungi in the natural forests.

Cooperation of officers from other countries has been welcomed and in 1973 Mr. C. Haynes from Australia spent nearly three months working with the CFI teams in Central America on collection of P. caribaea. An officer from Fiji will spend a similar period with the CFI teams during collection of P. caribaea in 1974.

A new project has recently been started to study botanical and genecological variation in the genus Agathis throughout its range. This may later lead to provenance seed collections. International seed exchange of this genus, as in a number of others in the moist tropics, where there is neither a cold nor a severe dry season, is rendered difficult by lack of dormancy and hence a very short period of seed viability. Research on seed physiology is needed.


The U.S. Forest Tree Seed Centre at Macon, Georgia became operational in 1972 and a recent account of operations has been published (McConnell and Belcher 1973). In 1973 over 50 requests for research quantities of seed were supplied to overseas countries. FAO has allocated $ 500to cover the costs of seed supplied to those developing countries which have difficulty in obtaining foreign exchange. Early feedback of information on results of provenance trials overseas will enable the Centre to improve its service, by building up adequate stocks of seed of the most promising provenances.

Seed orchards in the U.S.A. now cover 9 000 acres (3 600 ha), mostly grafted. A number are second stage orchards containing clones selected for a specific characteristic (e.g. resistance to Cronartium fusiforme rust). Important research on hybridization is being done in 5 needle pines, for the purpose of improving resistance to blister rust.

Coordination in tree improvement research and development is achieved through the Regional Tree Improvement Committees, which meet every two years.

The U.S. Forest Service dendrologist is writing a book on endangered forest species in the U.S.A.


The CGIAR has as its main purpose the mobilization of long-term financial support from international agencies, governments and private sources in order to cover gaps in agricultural research in developing countries. It was established in January 1971, under the joint sponsorship of the IBRD, FAO and UNDP. The IBPGR, one of the subsidiary bodies of the CGIAR, was established in February 1974 to provide coordination of international action in plant genetic resources and to recommend projects to the CGIAR for financing. During the first year of its operation (1974) it is expected to have over US$ 300 000 at its disposal. One member of the IBPGR is a forester (Monsieur P. Bouvarel of France).


As a result of financial restrictions, the contribution for seed procurement made under FAO's sub-programme on tree improvement in 1972/73 amounted to $US 51 500, compared with the US$ 55 000 anticipated by the panel at its second session. On the other hand, funds available for publishing “Forest genetic resources information” were obtained from the Forestry Department's general publications programme and were considerably more than the amount proposed by the Panel.

1972–73 funds were distributed as follows:

  1. $ 15 000 to CFI Oxford (Central American pines)
  2. $ 10 000 to FRI Canberra (eucalypts and Araucaria)
  3. $   8 000 to UNDP project BRA/71/545 in Brazil (Araucaria angustifolia and tropical hardwoods)
  4. $   5 000 to INIF Mexico, in addition to $ 5 000 contributed in September 1971, most of which was carried forward to 72/73 (Mexican pines).
  5. $   5 000 to IUFRO (N. American conifers)
  6. $   5 000 to FDFR Nigeria (tropical hardwoods)
  7. $   3 000 to ISS Florence (Mediterranean conifers and eucalypts)
  8. $      500 to Seed Centre Macon (cost and freight charges for seed supplied to developing countries)

Funds available for seed procurement in 1974/75 under the sub-programme on tree improvement are $ 40 000, less than in 1972/73, but a further $ 14 000 has been allocated for the third session of the Panel and $ 17 500 for the publication of “Forest Genetic Resources Information”. A summary of FAO contributions over the decade 1966–75 is in appendix 2.

On the recommendation of the Panel at its second session, FAO has commenced publication, in English, French and Spanish, of “Forest Genetic Resources Information”. Three issues have been prepared for publication up to mid-1974, and support has been expressed by readers in many countries.

The draft of the revised Forest Tree Seed Directory is expected to be ready by mid-1974, but still requires translation, typing and printing.

FAO field staff working with UNDP projects have continued to cooperate in work on forest genetic resources. The most important example was the collection of Araucaria angustifolia provenances in Brazil (see under South America on page 10).

Liaison has been maintained with a number of international organisations, notably with IUFRO's subject group S2.02 on species provenances and gene resources, Unesco in its MAB 8 project, and UNEP in its programme for the conservation of forest genetic resources.

Since the second session of the Panel, staff has been adequate to service the forest genetic resources programme. One professional has been able to devote full time to the tree improvement sub-programme(which includes not only forest genetic resources but training courses on tree improvement, technical support to field staff and information services on tree breeding and forest genetics) and a second half-time. The full-time professional was an associate expert due to leave FAO at the end of May 1974, without any immediate prospect of a replacement. An early replacement would be essential to maintain the tree improvement/forest genetic resources programme at its present level.


IUCN issued in September 1971 an additional set of data sheets on endangered and rare species for inclusion in its Red Data Book volume 5. It contained 5 “large” trees ( 15 m high) and 12 “small” trees (< 15 m high). They are listed in appendix 5.


The activities of IUFRO are grouped under a large number of different subject groups and project groups. The subject group most closely linked to the work of the Panel is S2.02 species, provenances and gene resources. Its leader is Professor M. Hagman, Vice-Chairman of the Panel.

Within this subject group working party .2 deals specifically with the conservation of gene resources and works closely with the Survival Service Commission of IUCN (Dr. R. Melville). An account of the WP activities has recently been published (Roche 1974). A number of data sheets, of tree species undergoing genetic impoverishment but not sufficiently endangered to warrant inclusion in the IUCN Red Data Book, has been prepared.

Another important working party is .4 on procurement of seeds. Its earlier work on collection of provenances of Pseudotsuga menziesii, Picea sitchensis, Pinus contorta and P. lambertiana was summarised in the report of the Panel's second session (FAO 1972). Current work is centred on collection of seed of Abies grandis and A. procera which is to take place in autumn 1974 in N.W. America.

Poplar seed collections have been organized by working party .10 on poplar provenances. Rangewide collections of Populus trichocarpa were made in 1972 and 1973 (Koster 1974). Further sampling of this species is planned for 1974 and it is hoped to make additional collections of P. deltoides.

For the evaluation phase, IUFRO has set up several working parties to concentrate on provenance trials of individual species or groups of species. In addition to poplars, these cover Pseudotsuga menziesii, Pinus contorta, Larix spp, Picea abies, P. sitchensis, Eucalyptus spp., tropical species and Mediterranean conifers. WPs S2.02.8 (tropical species and provenances) and S2.03.1 (breeding of tropical species) held a joint meeting in Nairobi in October 1973 and the proceedings have been published recently (Burley and Nikles 1973b). The WP on Pinus contorta is to meet in September 1974, while the WP on Picea abies is to prepare a detailed report on the existing trials of 1 200 provenances in time for the next IUFRO Congress in 1976.

Working parties within other subject groups deal with subjects closely related to genetic resources. In subject group S2.01 Physiology, there are working parties on reproductive processes and on seed problems. The latter held a meeting in 1973 in which considerable attention was paid to the serious but hitherto little studied problems of handling tropical seeds (IUFRO 1973). In subject group S2.03 Breeding, one WP deals with breeding tropical species and has published valuable information on tropical conifers, (Burley and Nikles 1972, 1973 a). In subject group S2.04 Genetics, one WP covers biochemical genetics, including studies of terpenes, iso-enzymes, gas chromatography and seed biochemistry, which may be important for identification of provenances. Subject group S2.05 deals with genetic resistance to insects and diseases. The possible presence of resistance genes is an important reason for conserving wild populations which are not of immediate economic importance.


The most important recent contribution from a UNDP project executed by FAO has been the collection of Araucaria angustifolia provenances in Brazil (see above under South America). Fellowships, financed by UNDP, enabled two Icelandic foresters to make extensive collections of conifer seeds in North America in 1971 (Arnason and Benedikz 1973).

Proposals for a UNDP Global Research Project on Forest Genetic Resources, as recommended by the 15th IUFRO Congress and the 7th World Forestry Congress, were submitted by FAO in 1972, but the UNDP decided that a programme for forest genetic resources, together with plant genetic resources, would be more appropriately considered by the IBPGR for possible financing by the Consultative Group and other organizations.


The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm June 1972) led directly to the establishment of UNEP, which is now based in Nairobi. The Conference stressed the importance of preserving the world's genetic resources and made specific reference to forestry species.

UNEP has already indicated its interest in forest genetic resources by agreeing to finance in 1974 a short-term project entitled “Methodology of Conservation of Forest Genetic Resources”. A follow-up of this project, in the shape of a long-term programme for forest genetic resources, seems a good possibility. UNEP's primary concern is in the field of genetic conservation.


Within its programme for Man and the Biosphere (MAB), Unesco has identified a number of separate projects. MAB project 8 is entitled “The Conservation of Natural Areas and of the genetic material they contain”. This project could play a leading role in the conservation of forest gene resources in situ, but would not be concerned with conservation ex situ. One section of the report of the Panel of experts on this project was devoted to “Conservation of Genetic Diversity” (Unesco 1973). A more recent meeting (Paris May 1974) described the objectives of the Biosphere Reserve series, defined criteria for the selection of biosphere reserves and recommended guidelines to assist governments in their establishment and management. One of the objectives is “……to safeguard the genetic diversity of species on which their continuing evolution depends”.


The Panel noted that since its last session in 1971 the rate of forest destruction and impoverishment has increased sharply, particularly in tropical countries, and the resultant probability of genetic erosion is cause for grave concern. The need for effective measures for both in situ and ex situ conservation of forest genetic resources has become critical. On the other hand, there is currently substantial public opinion in favour of conservation programmes and possibilities of obtaining financial support for an action programme in the conservation of genetic resources are good.

In late 1973, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), formed on the recommendation of the U.N. Environment Conference held in Stockholm in 1972, confirmed its interest in the conservation of forest genetic resources and invited FAO to prepare proposals for a preliminary project. A short-term project entitled “Methodology of Conservation of forest genetic resources” was approved and is now operational. An outline of the project is in Appendix 8.

The purpose of the project is to formulate guidelines to the most appropriate methodology of conservation of forest genetic resources which would form the basis for long-term action on conservation within a global programme (see section VI below). Its report is to be ready in October 1974. The Panel endorsed the proposal to devote approximately half of the report to case studies of individual species, with emphasis on practical aspects. It agreed on the case study authors so far proposed by the Secretariat and offered suggestions for additional contributors.

The Panel considered the subject of each case study and endorsed those given in appendix 8. It recommended, however, that case study 4 deal with tropical hardwoods rather than the tropical high forest, as originally proposed, in order to emphasize that it should treat individual species within the forest rather than the conservation of the tropical high forest as an ecosystem. It suggested that, after general consideration of tropical hardwoods as a whole, it would be useful to give in-depth treatment to the individual species, preferably one from Africa, one from Asia and one from tropical America. However, this might be difficult because of a lack of necessary documentation and the final choice of species should be left to the author.

The Panel further recommended that a search be undertaken for an author of an additional case study which would cover Mediterranean or arid species, but appreciated that it would be difficult to locate a suitable author in the limited time available.

The Panel agreed that a comprehensive programme in the conservation of forest genetic resources must include in situ and ex situ conservation of stands as well as the conservation of seeds and other propagules. The conservation of indigenous stands in situ, as part of a natural ecosystem, has the particular advantage of allowing natural genetic evolution while minimizing man-caused genetic erosion. Through ecosystem preservation, in situ conservation can be extended to all constituent species, rather than only those of current economic importance.

Although a great deal of progress has been made by some governments and organizations in designating nature reserves e.g. the resolution of the Organization of African Unity to encourage member states to establish Strict Natural Reserves, there is still a need to awake more governments to the need. Where such reserves are of sufficient size and are adequately protected, they may in themselves constitute adequate in situ conservation of genetic resources. The Panel agreed that the task of in situ conservation cannot be left solely to the conservationists, but that foresters have an obligation to formulate guidelines on in situ forest genetic conservation. The Panel drew attention to the need for more specific guidelines for determination of the size of reserve required to conserve genetic diversity of a given species. For this purpose the number of individuals needed to form a viable breeding population is more important than area per se. A minimum of 100 breeding individuals has been proposed (see appendix 9). If the stocking of a species per unit area is known, numbers of trees can be converted into minimum area of reserve, which will vary from species to species. For a tropical high forest species with very low stocking, a much larger area would be required than for temperate coniferous forest which has very few species each with high stocking.

In practice, estimates of the area needed for ecosystem conservation vary enormously, from e.g. 10 ha per forest reserve adopted in Tanzania (see section III, East Africa, above) to 1 million ha proposed by conservationists in Victoria, Australia. The Panel stressed that the minimum size must depend on local conditions and that the following factors are important:

  1. the need for an adequate buffer zone between a strict nature reserve and neighbouring areas where the ecosystem is eliminated. This may account for a large difference between net and gross area. The buffer zone may serve to accomodate partial utilisation or manipulation of the ecosystem by e.g. felling and logging, silvicultural treatment, tourism or wildlife. In East Africa an area of at least 5 000 ha may be necessary to conserve an adequate core of closed forest; a large part of the total would be buffer zone subject to the ravages of big game from surrounding areas. A wide buffer zone also serves to reduce contamination by foreign pollen and so preserve genetic integrity. It may be noted that a recent survey in Victoria, Australia showed that no species of economic importance was in danger of physical extinction but that some were in danger of contamination by alien pollen from stands of introduced provenances planted or aerially seeded in neighbouring areas.

  2. In many cases it is desirable to conserve a range of successional stages as well as the climax vegetation. In this case the total area to be reserved will be increased.

  3. It may be desirable to conserve a topographical series of vegetation types, e.g. a complete watershed or a complete escarpment. This too calls for reservation of a much bigger area.

  4. Conservation of an ecosystem (including the mobile animal element) is likely to need a larger area than conservation of the vegetation alone.

The Panel stressed that there are severe difficulties inherent to in situ conservation in some countries. For example, land tenure and use may be such that suitable areas are not available for public reservation. Examples are Pinus strobus var. chiapensis, in Mexico, and also Dalbergia latifolia in India, excellent phenotypes of which occur on agricultural land. The cost of establishing and maintaining nature reserves can be high and is often not recuperable in the short run; hence many governments, particularly in developing countries, may be unable to give high priority to such conservation. Proclamation of reserves in itself does not ensure conservation; they must also be managed, protected and controlled. The Panel noted in particular the difficulty in preventing trespassers and the dangers of natural catastrophies. In some cases economic pressure for resources within protected areas may become so great that what is one day seemingly secure could be sacrificed to commercial exploitation. To minimize the risk of total genetic loss from such causes, the Panel recommended that in situ conservation areas be established at least in duplicate.

The Panel agreed that in some cases no really effective in situ conservation is practical and that certain provenances and/or populations of potential value need to be conserved in artificial stands established ex situ where long term conservation can be assured. Such stands could also serve as sources of seed or vegetative propagules and for individual selection for breeding and continued improvement. They should be established in introducing countries as well as the country of origin. Some of the many existing plantations may qualify as ex situ conservation stands but in most cases documentation of the seed source is inadequate.

Ex situ conservation will involve the collection of sufficient quantities of seed to establish at least 10 hectares of plantation of each potentially valuable provenance on each of a number of representative sites. Although the intention would be to maintain adequate variation in a broadly based gene pool, the Panel recognized that, through natural selection in a non-native environment, some change in the gene frequency would likely result, but this could be an advantage for breeding and improvement. The Panel also emphasized that impeccable standards of planting, maintenance, protection and recording of these artificial stands would be essential and that many countries would not have the technical expertise or sufficient funds to allow for this over large areas. There is therefore a need for international assistance to establish ex situ artificial stands which would conserve genetic resources as well as supply seed for international, regional or purely national needs.

Two proposals for the use of international funds were considered. Under the first, (1) international resources would supply seed and pay establishment costs over the first five years; while (2) national resources would pay the cost of long-term management and protection; (3) all operational responsibilities would rest with the host country; and (4) up to 50% of the seed harvest would be made available to other countries, the remainder to the host country. Under the second proposal, international resources would provide only the initial seed and would receive only 20% of the eventual seed harvest. The Panel considered that many countries would wish to cooperate in establishing stands on the above lines and that selected countries should be approached to ascertain their willingness to participate in planting prototype ex situ conservation stands.

The Panel also recognized that the storage of seed or other reproductive materials is another important means of conserving genetic resources, and one which is often required at least temporarity before artificial stands can be established. The availability of seed storage facilities, on an international or regional basis, is an essential part of genetic conservation and there is also an urgent need for research on seed storage methods for long-term conservation, particularly of tropical species.

The Panel noted that the scientific conservation of genetic diversity in forest trees is a comparatively new field. Basic information is lacking, yet the need for action is urgent. Future programme should therefore include strong elements both of research and of training.


The Chairman of the Panel welcomed Mr. R.J. Pichel and Dr. D.J. Rogers of the Crop Ecology and Genetic Resources Unit of FAO's Plant Production and Protection Division.

Mr. Pichel, Chief of the Unit, described its work over the period 1968–73. The main activities had been (1) a worldwide joint survey with IBP of crop genetic resources in their centres of diversity (Frankel O.H., 1973), (2) maintenance of contacts with national and regional genetic resources centres and research institutes, with a view to build up an international network of germplasm conservation centres, (3) production of “Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter”, (4) providing limited financial aid to support the exploration and collection of crop genetic resources, (5) advising member governments and institutes on the techniques of plant exploration and introduction, (6) training, with special reference to cooperation in the MSc course at the University of Birmingham, (7) arranging for the exchange of seed and plant materials through the facilities of the Seed Laboratory at FAO HQ., (8) obtaining information on the total global capacity for long-term seed conservation and formulating procedures for the operation of base collections.

As a result of increasing realisation of the dangers of genetic erosion, expressed in recommendations made by the Third International Technical Conference on Crop Genetic Resources and the 17th session of the FAO Conference, and of the high priority given to genetic resources by the CGIAR, the Unit had been strengthened and its budget increased from $ 260 000 in 1970/71 to $ 600 000 in 1974/75. The current programme of the Unit aims to continue the past work as outlined above, but will lay particular stress on (1) the establishment of a world network of crop genetic resources centres (2) the development of an international system for storage and retrieval of data on crop genetic resources, to be centred at FAO HQ in Rome. Collaboration in field activities will be maintained with other bilateral aid projects such as those of Germany in Ethiopia and Central America, Denmark in Kenya (grassland project) and Sweden at Izmir in Turkey.

Mr. Pichel outlined the history and objectives of the CGIAR (see above under section III) and of its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). Both the TAC and CGIAR considered that the need for international action in plant genetic resources was so great that it merited coordination by a separate group of specialists, and this led to the establishment of the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) with its secretariat in the Crop Ecology and Genetic Resources Unit of FAO. The Board was to hold its first meeting in June 1974, at which emphasis was expected to be on discussing long-term objectives and arranging working procedures. The names of the members of the Board are in appendix 10. The Board would have at its disposal a Trust Fund to which contributions in 1974 were expected to amount to $ 335 000. Of this amount $ 100 000 would be needed for the secretariat (board meetings, staff etc.), leaving the balance for ad hoc disbursements to meritorious projects. Additional larger amounts earmarked for specific long-term projects would, it was hoped, be forthcoming from individual donors.

Dr. Rogers, Senior Officer on documentation, outlined FAO's current plans for the development of international genetic resources communication, information and documentation systems (CIDS). Recent accounts in more detail are available (Rogers 1974a, 1974b). He stressed the need to develop an international system for documentation of genetic resources, which would be available for use by the proposed network of international crop genetic resources centres, as well as national centres, and FAO's responsibility to take the lead in this work. Adequate data must be recorded when plants are collected or evaluated and such data must be freely available, not only to scientists in other countries but also to scientists in centuries to come. Data formats should be standardized as much as possible, but provision must also be made to “translate” data from non-standard formats of individual workers to standard international format. The volume of data is so great that only a computerised system is capable of handling it, but the user of the system (agronomist, forester etc.) must have the greatest say in its design. The system TAXIR (TAXonomic Information Retrieval), written in Fortran IV and first developed at the University of Colorado, has shown itself capable (in pilot studies on Solanum and Zea mays) of handling many of the information problems in genetic resources and will be used as the basis of the international system. Among the objectives in the immediate future, emphasis will be given to training in the use of TAXIR, development of a comprehensive system for one specific crop (Zea mays) and one specific centre (Izmir, Turkey) and study of the problems involved in adapting TAXIR for use in computers of smaller capacity than the one on which it was developed.

A query was raised as to the problems of exchanging information about commercial varieties developed by private plant breeders. Although the main scope of TAXIR is likely to be in the public sector, there may be possibilities for involving private breeders through a scheme such as that adopted in the Federal Republic of Germany, whereby private breeders deposit material and accompanying data in the national gene bank, on condition that the information is not divulged to competitors for a period of 5 years.

Printouts of the programme and output data of TAXIR on Zea mays were demonstrated to the Panel.


The Panel considered two secretariat notes, “Proposals for an international programme for improved use of forest genetic resources” (FO:FGR/3/4) and “Summary of proposed global programme for improved international use of forest genetic resources 1975–1979” (FO:FGR/3/6). It noted that the action programme implemented since its first session in 1968 had, because of limited funds, concentrated on exploration and collection and that progress in these operations had drawn attention to the need for a more comprehensive programme in forest genetic resources. Preliminary proposals for a global programme had been submitted by FAO to UNDP in 1972, but proposals are now more appropriately submitted to the new IBPGR of CGIAR, to which UNDP is one of the contributors, as well as to UNEP. Increased awareness of the importance of genetic resources makes present proposals timely; in relation to needs they are overdue.

The Panel stressed the long-term nature of activities in forest genetic resources. The programme for the five-year period 1975–79 should be regarded as the pilot phase in a continuing operation and should provide a factual basis for realistic long-term planning.

The Panel accepted the need for both a summary document, consisting of cost estimates, for the use of financing bodies, and a more detailed technical document, of interest to scientists. It endorsed the substance of FO:FGR/3/4 but recommended that the text be condensed. It approved the breakdown of the programme between the different regions, operations and possible donors. This should ensure flexibility in obtaining finance for the various items which are self-contained and may have varying appeal for different donors.

The Panel agreed that the 5 year global estimates were of the right order and that the apportioning of approximately one third to exploration/collection, one third to conservation and one third to all other operations was reasonable. It recommended, however, that the figures be revised to take account of inflation over the 5 year period. The inclusion of cost estimates, admittedly tentative, for national contributions was useful in setting the commitments of international organizations in perspective; efforts should be made to improve country estimates, but it should be accepted that they remain indicative only. The revised proposals for a global programme appear as document FO:MISC/74/15.

The Panel agreed that initial emphasis should be on fast-growing species such as eucalypts and tropical pines, but recommended that slower growing species adapted to difficult sites, e.g. Acacia spp. in arid and semi-arid zones, should not be neglected.

The important operation of evaluation (species and provenance trials) should be considered an integral part of each country's afforestation programme and hence a national, rather than an international, responsibility. As such it may qualify, in a developing country, for bilateral or multilateral technical assistance. International initiative can play a big part in encouraging uniform standards of design, maintenance and recording.

The Panel supported the proposal to allocate funds for research and development of data storage/retrieval systems for forest genetic resources. It recognised that, although forestry can and must derive as much benefit as possible from the TAXIR system now being developed by FAO for crop genetic resources (see above p.18), a system designed solely for crop plants would omit much of importance to forestry, e.g. tree and stand mensuration, assessment of wood properties. Special provision is therefore necessary for forest genetic resources.

The Panel welcomed the initiative of CFI Oxford in developing INTFORPROV, a computerised system for international tropical provenance experiments (Burley, Andrew & Templeman 1973). This was presented to the Panel by Mr. Kemp and is reproduced as Appendix 11 of this report. The Panel endorsed the principle of pooling information and storing it in a number of national and regional centres rather than in a single centralised store. The most complete information for any one country should be stored in that country; an international system should facilitate exchange of information but should never involve surrender of data by the originating country. Improvements in compatibility between computers would be essential to facilitate rapid exchange of information. A welcome feature of INTFORPROV is the allowance for missing data.

The Panel reviewed the list of descriptors and agreed that it was comprehensive and practical. It was proposed that the following be added:

  1. Estimates of potential evapotranspiration (files 1.2, 3.2).

  2. Estimates of productivity/site index where available (files 1,3).

  3. Effective rooting depth (file 1.4).

  4. Climatic synthesis, e.g. relationship of seasonal rainfall and temperature variations or construction of climodiagrams (files 1.2, 3.2). The additional cost of providing this type of information would need careful consideration.

  5. Provision for more ecological detail, e.g. on species composition (files 1.5, 3.5).

  6. Comments on pest/disease status of provenance trials (file 4).

The Panel supported the proposal that the global programme should include provision for an international project for the production and exchange of genetically improved seed, including seed orchards, and agreed that there were useful prototypes for this in the species Pinus radiata (Shelbourne 1973), P. caribaea (Nikles 1973 a, 1973 c) and Eucalyptus camaldulensis (Lake Albacutya provenance) in the Mediterranean (FAO 1973 b). Expansion of work in Pinus caribaea should be given top priority and the recent paper by Dr. Nikles, presented to the Panel by Dr. Cromer and reproduced as appendix 6, provides a sound basis. Several regional seed orchards will be required and great care will be needed in site selection to ensure maximum seed production within a zone to which the provenance used is well adapted. Exchange of scion material sometimes involves difficulties in quarantine, while exchange of rooted cuttings or grafts with soil is still more difficult, so seed is likely to be the most important means of exchanging superior genotypes. The project should be a long-term one, expanding in scope as more material becomes available from the hitherto little planted southern provenances of P. caribaea var.hondurensis in Nicaragua and Honduras.

The Panel discussed at length the question of regional forest genetic resources centres. Although there was general agreement that these would be needed, there were divergent opinions as to whether they should be linked to existing forestry institutes, international agricultural research institutes on the proposed new plant genetic resources centres. There could be substantial advantages from the shared facilities derived by siting forest gene centres and crop plant gene centres together, especially if both were financed from a common source, the CGIAR. The Panel agreed that it was impossible to generalize and that the siting of each centre must be decided only after a careful appraisal of local conditions. It therefore recommended that the item in the global programme entitled “Appraisal of the need for international forest gene centres” be brought forward to 1975 and that the cost estimate be increased to $ 50 000.

The Panel supported the proposal for an item on seed handling research but recommended that this be expanded to include research on reproductive biology also. Recent publications (IUFRO 1973, Kamra 1974) have drawn attention to the lack of knowledge of seed biology, especially of tropical species. Although fuller information can be expected in the future, e.g. from the ISTA workshop on forest tree seed testing planned for 1975 and the proposals for revision of the USDA Woody plant seed manual and production of a Eucalyptus seed manual in Australia, much of this will not be relevant to the tropics. There is need for more training in seed research. This could be achieved through fellowships, through posting specialists to seed laboratories in the developing countries and through international exchange of research workers between developed and developing countries. A high proportion, both of research and training, should be carried out in seed laboratories in or near the indigenous range of the species and much can be done to improve local handling techniques by simple methods, without the need for expensive sophisticated equipment.


The Panel pointed out that proposals for early action, by FAO through its regular programme and by other organizations, should be read in the context of the wider proposals for a global programme discussed in section VI above.

1. FAO Regular Programme 1974–75

The Panel noted that $ 40 000 was available for field operations in this biennium, compared with $ 51 500 in 1972–73. It reaffirmed its policy of supporting institutes already working actively and competently in forest genetic forest resources and recommended that the following allocations should be made:

  1. US$ 10 000 to the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales (INIF) Mexico for further collections of Mexican conifers and Populus

  2. US$ 3 000 to the FAO/UNDP project for integrated establishment of forestry research in Brazil (BRA/71/545) for seed collection of tropical hardwoods, especially in Amazonia.

  3. US$ 1 000 to the Working Group for Procurement of Seed for International Provenance Research of the International Union of Forestry Research Organisations (IUFRO), for conifers in Western North America.

  4. US$ 1 500 to the Committee for Coordination of Mediterranean Forestry Research for continuation of provenance sampling of Mediterranean conifers, with particular reference to Pinus brutia, P. halepensis and P. nigra.

  5. US$ 5 000 to suitable institutes in West Africa, for exploration and collection of tropical hardwoods in that region.

  6. US$ 15 000 to the Forest Research Institute, FRI, Canberra, for further collections of the genus Eucalyptus throughout its natural range and other genera in Australia, and for collections of Araucaria spp. and Eucalyptus deglupta in Papua New Guinea and other parts of the East Indies.

  7. US$ 4 500 to other institutes as may be determined by the Secretariat, in consultation with the Chairman of the Panel.

The Panel reviewed recent progress made in exploration and collection of individual species and prepared a chart comparing plans and accomplishments over the period 1966–79. This chart is shown in appendix 3. It recognised that the chart is of limited value since it does not show the extent to which seed collections actually made sample the full range of the species. The early preparation of maps which combine the species range with the collecting locations of seed lots is an urgent need (see below p 23). The assessment of recent progress was one factor considered by the Panel when it drew up the new list of species/field operation priorities which appears in appendix 4. This includes a number of additional species particularly of tropical hardwoods, and a wider range of operations, as compared with the lists attached to the reports of the first two sessions. The statement of species/operations priorities is essential, not only for short-term action by FAO, but also as a basis for the 5 year global programme.

The Panel noted that the first few issues of “Forest Genetic Resources Information” (FGRI) had elicited a warm response from readers in many countries and recommended continued publication as an integral part of FAO's contribution to forest genetic resources. It suggested that papers be solicited from a number of outside authors. It noted that there was still a lack of communication with certain regions, especially Latin America and Eastern Europe and made a number of suggestions designed to increase public awareness of the existence and purpose of FGRI:

  1. Distribute on personal basis to research workers in USSR through the Forest Research Institute in Finland

  2. Arrange for reciprocal inclusion in the sister publication of the contents pages of the latest FGRI and “Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter”.

  3. Send copies for review in major forestry journals throughout the world.

  4. Request heads of national forest services to designate a coordinating officer for forest genetic resources information, who would submit information for publication and send in amendments to the distribution list for his country.

The Panel welcomed the news that the draft of the revised Forest Tree Seed Directory was approaching completion and would be published as soon as translation, typing and printing could be done.

2. FAO Regular Programme 1976–77

On the assumption that present plans for a global programme could be financed from the various sources proposed, FAO's regular programme contribution would amount to around $ 600 000 over five years, of which $ 150 000 would be for financial assistance to exploration and collection operations, $ 50 000 for information services (FGRI) and the balance for Panel expenses and staff salaries covering central planning, coordination and training. This amounts to only a modest increase over current expenditure, barely sufficient to cover inflation. No provision would be made for financing field operations in conservation.

While reiterating its opinion that a global programme offered the most rational means of obtaining finance, the Panel discussed the implications for FAO's regular programme in the case that outside sources of funds were not available. It considered that

  1. The Panel's 1968 estimate of $ 140 000 per biennium for exploration and collection was a realistic one at that time.

  2. Since then the annual rate of inflation had rocketed.

  3. While considerable progress had been made in exploration and collection of a few important species, further species had been added to the list as requiring attention.

  4. The alarming increase in the tempo of forest encroachment and impoverishment in the tropics since 1968 had rendered effective action for conservation, both in situ and ex situ, a matter of urgency.

It therefore recommended that, in the event that outside budgetary sources do not become available for the global programme by 1976, FAO should endeavour to increase substantially its regular programme contribution towards forest genetic resources. A figure of $ 250 000 per biennium would be a realistic figure.

3. Other Organizations

The Panel noted that it had not been possible for IUFRO to make any progress on the drafting of a simple set of guidelines on the rapid establishment and management of seed production areas of locally adapted provenances of exotic species in developing countries (Report of second session of Panel, Recommendation A 1 (9)). Following the advice of the Chairmen of IUFRO working parties S2.01.5 and S2.03.3, the Panel recommended that the Unit of Tropical Silviculture at CFI Oxford be requested to undertake this important task, in close cooperation with the two above-mentioned IUFRO working parties.

The Panel noted that no progress had been made on the collation and publication of information on mechanised equipment for seed procurement. It welcomed the proposal for a FAO/DANIDA training course on forest seed collection and handling, to be held in Thailand early in 1975, and recommended that Mr. H. Barner, the Director of the training course, be requested to write the paper on mechanised equipment for seed procurement as part of the follow-up to the training course.

As noted above (p. 21), the best way of indicating how well existing seed collections sample a species range is to prepare good maps on which the location of each collecting point is superimposed on the natural distribution of the species. The map would be supplemented by tabulated data for site, stand and trees at each collecting point. Few such maps exist, but a good example is one for Pinus kesiya in the Philippines, showing 19 collecting points within the range. India is compiling a national atlas showing the distribution of forest species, this could form the basis for a combined map showing collecting points as well as species distribution. The Panel endorsed the recommendation made at the Nairobi meeting on Tropical Provenance and Progeny Research and International Cooperation that CFI Oxford and FRI Canberra should be requested to collaborate in producing guidelines for the preparation of such maps, including questions of scale, contours and cost. This could lead to production of a series of maps in standard format which could be part of IUFRO's contribution to dissemination of information on forest genetic resources, included in the proposed global programme.


1. Third World Consultation on Forest Tree Breeding

This is scheduled to take place in 1977 and will be a joint undertaking of the host Government, Australia, FAO and IUFRO. Dr. Cromer outlined the present plans. The meeting will be in Canberra and proposed dates are 21–26 March 1977. There will be pre- and post-consultation study tours. It is hoped to give main emphasis to tree-breeding of fast-growing tropical species. Other possible themes suggested are (1) “The utilisation of forest genetic resources through tree breeding” (2) “Tree-breeding - progress and prospects” (3) “Utilisation and conservation of forest genetic resources in an agro-forestry future”.

2. Training Courses

Denmark financed the FAO/DANIDA training course on forest tree improvement which took place in Kenya in September/October 1973. A report including lecture notes has since been issued (FAO 974). A further FAO/DANIDA training course, on forest seed collection and handling, is proposed for early 1975 in Thailand.

3. Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Panel considered that the most suitable location for its next meeting would be in Canberra on the occasion of the Third World Consultation on Forest Tree Breeding in March 1977. An alternative, less favoured, occasion would be the eleventh IUFRO Congress in Norway in 1976. The Panel noted the possibility that the IBPGR might wish to call, and pay for, additional ad hoc meetings of the Panel to advise it on specific matters in forest genetic resources.


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