The above meeting was held at FAO Headquarters, Rome from 29 September to 1 October 1999. Fourteen Members of the Panel and one invited Resource Person attended the meeting. Collaborators from the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), and the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO), also contributed to the deliberations.
The Panel examined work carried out in the field of forest genetic resources since its previous, Tenth Session (Rome, September 1997), based on reports and reviews at national, regional and international levels2.
The expansion in technical coverage, the increase in the number of institutes and agencies involved, and new developments at the policy, institutional and scientific and technical levels and their implications for the forest genetic resources work of FAO were discussed, and the need for continued harmonization of efforts was stressed. The Panel took note of the debate which had taken place within the framework of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Convention on Biological Diversity, with special reference to the debate on access to genetic resources, intellectual property rights, the use of genetically modified organisms and biosafety. It welcomed FAO's inter-Departmental activities on the use of biotechnologies, and discussed the place and role of these new tools which had considerable potential provided that due attention and resources were allocated by countries to conservation and breeding work underpinning their wise use. The Panel urged FAO to continue to provide timely scientific and technical information to member countries and international organizations on issues related to the use of biotechnologies in forestry, in providing ethical direction and guidance in the use of these new technologies, and to serve as "an honest broker of quality science-based information on biotechnologies"3.
The Panel up-dated the lists of priority species by region and by operational activity regularly prepared by it to complement national and local lists and lists of e.g. endangered forest tree species which are elaborated by other agencies and organizations. In regard to the work of FAO, it drew special attention to a number of specific species and genera in need of international attention (including neem and Neotropical mahogany species).
The Panel passed a number of recommendations stressing the need for continued and increased attention i.a. to the following issues:
In carrying out the above activities, full use should be made of existing action frameworks, such as national forest programmes, programmes on sustainable forest management, and programmes targeting the conservation of biological diversity, into which genetic resource considerations should be fully integrated.
UPDATE ON IPGRI RESEARCH IN FOREST GENETICS
Since December 1997 the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) has published two issues "FORGEN news" - a news bulletin which provides information on IPGRI's research in conservation and sustainable utilization of forest genetic resources. The recent, second issue (March 1999) includes information on:
Copies of FORGEN news can be obtained from:
IPGRI, Via delle Sette Chiese 142