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This Appendix (based on Information Note FORGEN/03/3) summarizes the main recommendations addressed to FAO by the Twelfth Session of the Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources in November 2001 and action taken in response to these recommendations (2001-2003).

I. Introduction

At its 12th Session held in Rome, Italy, 21-23 November 2001, the Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources passed a total of 12 recommendations. These recommendations, as published in the Report on the meeting, are listed below, accompanied by brief notes on action taken by FAO in response to each of them since the last Session.

The present Appendix should be read in conjunction with Appendices 5 and 6.

II. Follow-up to Recommendations

Recommendations at Policy Level

1. The Panel stressed the importance of fostering collaboration and forging partnerships with national and international agencies, institutes and mechanisms in the forest genetic resources field, and to promote cross-sectoral linkages and encourage donor coordination. It reconfirmed its support to the main thrust and focus of programmed activities in the planned FAO work programme for the coming biennium and the Medium Term Plan. It recommended that balanced attention continue to be given to activities in the various geographical and eco-regional zones, and among forest genetic resources activities.

FAO has continued to play an active role in fostering collaboration between international, regional and national institutions, and in promoting appropriate attention to forest genetic resources issues. Activities have taken place in all the main geographic regions.

2. Noting the increasing attention that issues in forest biological diversity were receiving world-wide, the Panel recommended that FAO continue to make full use of already existing action frameworks in the implementation of forest genetic resources activities, such as national forest programmes and programmes underpinning sustainable forest management. It stressed the need to incorporate genetic principles in activities aimed at the conservation of biological diversity, and as an integral component of natural forest management.

Efforts have been made to identify sustainable forest management initiatives, at policy level and field level, and options has been considered on the way to incorporate forest genetic resources considerations into biological diversity conservation efforts. These issues have been addressed at two regional workshops, respectively in Central America (2002) and Central Africa (2003). They will be discussed at the Thirteenth Session of the Panel.

3. In order to allow activities to continue in line with recommendations by concerned Statutory and Governing Bodies of the Organization, which reflected expectations of Member Countries and the international community, the Panel recommended that efforts be made to sustain present levels of resources allocated to FAO's forest genetic resources programme.

Budget allotments from the Regular Programme were available in 2002-2003 with the same order as in the previous biennium. An increasing proportion of forest genetic resources funding originates from extra-budgetary sources (in particular, the FAO-Netherlands Partnership Programme on Agro-Biodiversity).

Recommendations on Overall Focus

4. The Panel highlighted the role of FAO in raising awareness of the potentials, and the place and role, of forest biotechnologies in genetic studies and in selection and breeding programmes, and the role of the Organization in providing ethical direction and guidance in the managed use of new technologies. The Panel recommended that FAO continue to provide timely, up-to-date, technically sound information to countries and international organizations on issues related to the use of such technologies, and that it continue to serve as “honest broker of quality science-based information on biotechnologies”3.

Special attention has been given to the developments of biotechnologies and their role in forest genetic diversity management. Inputs were provided to the State of the World’s Food and Agriculture (SOFA); to synthesis papers and project proposals within the Interdepartmental Working Group on Biotechnology; and the State of the World’s Forests. A global review of the state of genetic modification in forestry has been commissioned. Proposals for a global review of biotechnology in forestry will be discussed at the Thirteenth Session of the Panel.

5. The Panel noted the increased need to promote application of conventional and new genetic technologies which had proven useful in industrial forestry also in the management of trees grown outside the forest, in agroforestry systems and land rehabilitation programmes, desertification control and for the capture of atmospheric carbon.

FAO continues to provide technical support to national institutions in member countries, towards the conservation, management and use of forest genetic diversity, through the use of traditional breeding programmes and new biotechnology tools. Focus is given to information gathering, analysis and dissemination, through a variety of communication tools, publications, workshops, meetings and other mechanisms. In collaboration with INRA, France, a review of existing species and provenance trials established in countries of the Near East within the framework of Silva Mediterranea will be carried out in the next biennium.

6. The Panel stressed the need to continue to raise awareness of the social, economic and environmental benefits of conservation and wise use of forest genetic resources, and of the direct and indirect contributions which such action made to national and rural development. It stressed the need to further emphasise the compatibility of genetic conservation and genetic management with the managed use of forest resources to meet present-day as well as future needs.

“Forest Conservation, Biodiversity and Wildlife” is a programme element being implemented by the Forest Resources Conservation Service to promote the management of wildlife and protected areas. In the recent past, the programme was focused on the sustainable use of wildlife for food and income generation. Synoptic publications on wildlife and food security in Latin American and Africa were produced, as were specific publications on game husbandry techniques for the Paca (Agouti paca), the Grasscutter (Thryonomys swinmderianus), and other small mammals.

Current focal areas include management effectiveness in protected areas, effectiveness of biodiversity conservation, reconciling protected area management with sustainable rural development, and sustainable use of forest animal biodiversity. The programme also assists member countries to fulfill the requirements of international conventions.

7. The Panel welcomed the continued attention given by FAO to the genetic management of species providing a range of wood and non-wood products and environmental services, and the attention paid to the health and vitality of the ecosystems of which they formed part. The Panel noted that action taken in regard to Prunus africana could provide useful guidance on risk assessment and conservation strategies and methodologies.

FAO has continued to collect, analyze and evaluate information on important forest species, including those species with other uses than wood, pulp and timber, with special attention to species growing in dry and moist tropical zones. The data collection work, carried out by national partners, has generally been undertaken during the preparation of regional workshops, in close collaboration with international organizations, including ICRAF, IPGRI, IUFRO, CIFOR and the Danida Forest Seed Centre.

8. The Panel recommended that FAO continue to support countries and national institutions in the preparation of regional and eco-regional forest genetic resources status and action plans, based on priorities and needs of individual countries, and endorsed for action under a regional umbrella in related workshops. The final aim was to develop, step by step, a country-driven, participatory, global assessment and action framework for the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources.

Two workshops have been organized, and previous workshops followed up. See Information Note FORGEN/03/7 for details.

9. The Panel recommended that activities related to the dissemination of information and exchange of germplasm for evaluation and conservation purposes, be continued. Noting new developments in legal aspects related to collection, transfer, exchange and trade in reproductive materials, the Panel re-confirmed its view that such exchange should be based on mutually agreed terms and agreements. FAO was encouraged to further gather and disseminate relevant information on international and regional seed certification systems, access and benefit-sharing, material transfer agreements (MTAs) and biosafety aspects in germplasm exchange, including issues related to potentially invasive species and threats to forest genetic resources posed by pests and diseases.

FAO has continued to provide assistance to member countries in the field of seed collection, production, handling and exchange, including aspects of tree breeding and selection, property rights issues and access and benefit-sharing. An internet site is hosting an overview of forest reproductive materials issues, where examples of MTAs are provided. In 2002, ICRAF published a new version of the Forest Seed Supplier Directory, updated in collaboration with IUFRO and FAO. A special programme has been launched to review issues related to biosecurity aspects in forestry, including regional and global studies of the phenomenon of invasive forest tree species. A Technical Collaboration Project in North China aims at short-term and long-term aspects of pest management in large scale man-made forests, with emphasis on the Asian long-horn beetle Anaplophora glabripennis.

10. The Panel recommended that FAO continue to catalyze and support the development of practical, technical guidelines for the management of forest genetic resources. The Panel expressed its support to the further development of methodologies and pilot activities on in situ and ex situ conservation coupled with forest management and sustainable resource use. It welcomed plans for focused attention to a limited number of species-specific networks, including neem and mahogany species, and encouraged further support to institutional networking and twinning.

Work has continued towards the publication of the proceedings of the International Neem Network (INN) Workshop on Data Collection and Analysis (2001); and the dissemination of relevant information materials. All technical documents published in the framework of the INN have been digitalized, and are made available on the FAO Forestry Department internet homepage. In situ genetic conservation methodologies have been developed and published, in collaboration with IPGRI and DFSC.

11. The Panel recommended that special attention be paid to forest tree species threatened by genetic erosion caused by unsustainable use, and by factors such as fire, drought and other adverse environmental factors, which were often aggravated by insufficient biological and genetic knowledge of the species concerned and the ecosystems in which they occurred. Due attention should be paid to genetic resources in areas with low forest cover countries.

FAO actively contributes to the preparation of methodologies for the conservation of forest tree genetic diversity, through relevant publications and inputs to technical guidelines on in situ and ex situ conservation by the Danida Forest Seed Centre.

Recommendations related to targeted actions and Areas of Activity

The Panel passed a number of specific technical recommendations complementing the recommendations above, stressing the need for continued and increased attention to information management, definitions and evaluation, including:

12. Well-targeted information dissemination, ensuring stratification of information materials according to targeted users; and information management, using traditional and new methods. Special mention was made of the annual bulletin, "Forest Genetic Resources", and the Forest Genetic Resources Homepage, both available in three languages, which were considered particularly useful vehicles for information dissemination and exchange.

Provision of up-to-date information on the state of the world's forest genetic resources, notably through continued development and regular up-dating of information lodged in the FAO World-Wide Information System on Forest Genetic Resources (REFORGEN).

The harmonization of concepts and terms, with special reference to on-going collaboration with IUFRO in the development of reference glossaries on terms frequently used in the forest genetic resources field.

Raising of awareness of the social, economic and environmental benefits of conservation and wise use of forest genetic resources, and of the direct and indirect contributions which such action made to national and rural development.

Issues No 29 and 30 of the annual bulletin “Forest Genetic Resources” were published in English, French and Spanish in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The extensive internet page on forest genetic resources is periodically updated and available in three languages.

Working documents, case studies and national status reports are being published in the Forest Genetic Working Papers series; and the Forest Health and Biosecurity Working Papers series. Development of the REFORGEN information system has been slower than initialled planned, although new data from national status reports are being entered time after time. The new infrastructure will offer a platform common to other species-based applications of the FAO Forestry Department. The FAO-IUFRO Glossary on Forest Genetic Resources terminology has been updated, printed (English version) and is available on line. A holistic approach to a global status of forest genetic diversity will be discussed at the Thirteenth Session of the Panel.

3 116th Session of the FAO Council. Document CL 116/Rep. June 1999, para 25.

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