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This Appendix (based on Information Note FORGEN/01/3) summarizes the main recommendations addressed to FAO by the Eleventh Session of the Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources in September/October 1999 and action taken in response to these recommendations (1999-2001).

I. Introduction

At its 11th Session held in Rome, Italy 29 September - 1 October 1999, the Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources passed a total of 16 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 Information Note should be read in conjunction with Appendices 5, 6, 7 and 8.

II. Follow-up to Recommendations

Recommendations at Policy Level:

1. The Panel stressed the need for FAO to continue to work in close partnership with governments and national institutions, international, regional and bilateral organizations, and in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and groups, the private sector, communities and various interest groups and individuals.

- A list of external partners and collaborators, with which formal cooperation programmes have been undertaken during the biennium 2000-2001, is given in Annex 1 of Appendix 5.

2. The Panel emphasized that FAO should remain a point of reference in the forest genetic resources field, and continue to catalyze, support and help coordinate action at international level, thus assisting member countries to conserve and utilize forest and tree genetic resources in a sustainable manner.

- The programme includes an important component of information management and dissemination, providing national and international institutions with consistent information on interrelated topics including genetic conservation policies and planning, legal issues, technical guidelines, conservation of biological and genetic diversity, tree improvement and biotechnology, forest genetic assessments and priority-setting by regions and countries (see also Appendix 8).

3. Balanced attention should continue to be given to activities in the various eco-regional zones and to the full range of forest genetic resources activities. The Panel highlighted the need for continued links and close synergy between FAO's normative work and the field programme, and the need for close collaboration with other technical units in FAO underpinning an interdisciplinary approach.

- National institutions have been supported in Sahelian Africa, the Pacific Islands, Eastern and Southern Africa, and new focus is given to Central Africa and Central America. The International Neem Network has provided assistance to countries in Asia and Africa, while close contacts have been maintained with national institutes in North America, Australasia, Europe and the Mediterranean. Field projects have been supported notably in China, Iraq, Namibia and Senegal. The renewed Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources presents a balanced representation of regions and eco-regions of the world.

4. 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 nations and the international community, the Panel requested that efforts be made to sustain present levels of resources allocated to FAO's forest genetic resources programme. In the meantime, the Panel encouraged FAO to explore options to broaden partnership with, and use expertise and human resources from, research and academic institutions, to address areas of common interest for mutual benefit.

- The level of resources allocated under the Regular Programme has remained constant. Additional support has included a Cooperation programme with British Columbia Ministry of Forestry, a partnership programme with the Netherlands, a Volunteer Programme with the University of Viterbo, Italy and an APO programme with DANIDA.

Recommendations on Overall Focus

5. Noting the contribution to rural development that work related to forest genetic resources could provide, the Panel stressed the need for FAO to help raise awareness, in relevant national and international forestry and non-forestry fora, of the role and the potential of forest genetic resource activities, thus helping to promote the integration of forest genetic resources considerations into programmes aimed at sustainable resource use.

- FAO staff has participated in a number of conferences, symposia, meetings and workshops. Information related activities have been significantly increased using electronic and traditional means, and operational links enhanced between interrelated activities and outputs (see Appendix 8).

6. The Panel stressed the need to continue to publicize the social, economic and environmental benefits of conservation and wise utilization of forest genetic resources, and the direct and indirect contributions, which such action made to food security, and overall development of nations. It stressed the need to further emphasize the compatibility of resource conservation and genetic management with the managed utilization of forest resources, aimed at meeting present-day needs.

- FAO, IPGRI and DFSC are publishing comprehensive guidelines to forest genetic conservation.

- The Ad-Hoc Technical Expert Group on forest biological diversity of the CBD, to which FAO participated, has recognized the overall compatibility of forest conservation and use. Conservation of biological diversity is an integral component of activities in sustainable forest management and one of the considerations in FRA 2000.

7. Noting the Forestry Department's experience in cross-sectoral approaches to major issues, such as food security, sustainable rural development and integrated land use, the Panel highlighted FAO's role in ensuring that full use be made of already existing action frameworks in the implementation of forest genetic resources plans and activities. Such frameworks included national forest programmes and programmes on sustainable forest management; biological diversity action plans; and environmental conservation programmes. The need to further support the incorporation of genetic principles into protected area management plans and forest management practices was also stressed.

- Country and regional status assessments and action plans on forest genetic resources are prepared in close collaboration with national, regional and international frameworks related to forest protection, biological diversity maintenance, nature conservation and rehabilitation, and the sustainable management of natural resources.

- Programmes of the Forestry Department also include the promotion of ecosystem-level biodiversity and wildlife conservation, the management of protected areas, and support to specific international agreements and conventions (see Appendix 5).

8. The Panel recommended that activities related to the exchange of information, technologies and forest reproductive materials for evaluation and conservation purposes, be continued. Noting new developments in legal aspects related to collection, transfer, exchange and trade in genetic materials, the Panel confirmed the view that such exchange of germplasm should be based on mutually agreed terms and agreements. FAO was encouraged to gather and disseminate relevant information on access, benefit-sharing and biosafety aspects.

- Specific support has been provided to updating the Forest Seed Sources Directory coordinated by ICRAF, and facilitating the exchange of technical experience in seed collection, handling and supply. The recent developments of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources are closely followed. Biosafety issues are increasingly reviewed and addressed, through various mechanisms. Property rights and patent issues are being addressed in a practical way, through the promotion of Material Transfer Agreements.

9. The Panel stressed the need for FAO to continue the work carried out towards the development of integrated strategies for the management of forest genetic resources (including conservation), with due attention to institutional aspects. At technical level, the Panel stressed the importance of promoting the application of appropriate levels of sophistication of technology, focusing on proven techniques and methods which provided direct impacts with levels of technological sophistication adapted to prevailing institutional settings and financial possibilities. The Panel expressed its support to the further development of methodologies and pilot activities in the in situ conservation of forest genetic resources coupled with forest management and sustainable resource utilization.

- Support to the development of integrated status assessments and action plans on forest genetic resources has been continued in the Sahel, the Pacific Islands, Eastern and Southern Africa, and is being initiated in Central Africa and Central America. Country reports and regional synthesis are being published and posted on the Internet, and will contribute to a future global assessment of the status of forest genetic resources, by countries and eco-regions.

- Experience gained in the establishment and management of in situ and ex situ conservation stands is being analyzed by the Danida Forest Seed Centre in collaboration with FAO and results are being published. (See also sec. 6 above).

10. The Panel stressed FAO's important role in raising awareness of the place and role of biotechnologies in tree selection and breeding programmes, in both developed and developing countries, and FAO's role in providing ethical direction and neutral advice and guidance in the use of new technologies. The Panel urged FAO to continue to provide timely up-to-date, neutral and sound information to countries and international organizations on issues related to the use of biotechnologies in forestry, and to serve as "honest broker of quality science-based information on biotechnologies" 4.

- A number of activities have addressed the application of modern biotechnologies in the forestry sector (FAO e-mail conference, multi-sectoral webpage on the FAO internet site, publications). (See Appendix 5).

- In collaboration with the British Columbia Ministry of Forestry, in the framework of the FAO programme with Scientific and Research Institutions, an update of the developments in biotechnology and biosecurity applied to forestry has been undertaken and results published. (See Annex III of Appendix 5).

Recommendations related to Specific Actions and Areas of Activity

11. Assistance to the development of species-specific networks, including the International Neem Network, with special reference to the evaluation of provenance trials at international level.

- Support has continued to the NEEM Network. A workshop on data analysis was organized for collaborators of the network, in collaboration with DFSC, FORSPA and IUFRO, at the Arid Forest Research Institute, Jodhpur, India, in March 2001 (see Annex IV of Appendix 5). Support has been provided also to activities on teak (TEAKNET) and mahoganies (Central America, Mexico).

12. Support to national institutions in the development and implementation of forest genetic resources programmes within the framework of regional and sub-regional forest genetic resources workshops and strategies; and assistance in identifying additional support and funding sources for focused activities.

- In addition to supporting countries in specific eco-regions of Africa, the Pacific, and Central America (see sect. 7,9 above), collaboration has been continued with national institutions or regional mechanisms including EUFORGEN, SAFORGEN, and the North American Forest Commission (see Appendix 7).

13. Well-targeted information dissemination, 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, as useful vehicles for information dissemination and exchange.

- Issue No 28 has been published and No 29 of annual bulletin Forest Genetic Resources is being printed in three languages and posted on the Internet. Issue No 30 is being prepared. A comprehensive Information management strategy is being implemented, using a wide set of tools and media for dissemination (see sect. 5 above and Appendix 8).

14. Provision of up-to-date information on the state of the world's forest genetic resources, notably through continued development of the FAO worldwide Information System on Forest Genetic Resources (REFORGEN).

- Information in REFORGEN is being updated; taking into account data provided through regional assessments and action plans development (see Appendix 8). Systematic approaches and coordination with programmes such as EUFORGEN and CAT-PGR will be considered

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

- IUFRO-SylvaVoc has provided a draft version of the FGR glossary, which is available on-line, in three languages. Work continues on streamlining.

16. Assistance to national institutes in carrying out reviews of seed diffusion pathways to identify institutional delivery system gaps, thus helping ensure that a wide range of germplasm users were reached.

- Financial and logistic support has been provided towards the review of seed diffusion pathways and delivery systems, carried out by ICRAF.

4 116th Session of the FAO Council. Document CL 116/Rep. June 1999, para 25.

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