NORTH AMERICAN FOREST COMMISSION
Item 5(a) of the Provisional Agenda
St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada, 12-16 June 2000
REPORT OF THE STUDY GROUP ON FOREST GENETIC RESOURCES
The Study Group on Forest Genetic Resources fosters the conservation of the forest genetic resources of North America by encouraging cooperation among the member countries, coordinating multinational research programmes and promoting the exchange of information.
A technical report on "The Status of Temperate North American Forest Genetic Resources" was published by the Genetic Resources Conservation Programme of the University of California. This 85-page report was the outcome of the International Workshop conducted in Berkeley, California, from 12 to 15 June 1996. The key contribution was an overview of the status and utilization of North American forest genetic resources in countries where these are important species for ongoing plantation programmes.
A technical report was published on "The International Seminar-Workshop on Forest Genetic Resources" held at the Department of Forestry of the Autonomous University of Chapingo from 11 to 12 April 1995. This 252-page report is an invaluable compendium of 12 distinct papers on topics related to conservation of resources, genetic variability, establishment and management of seed stands, storage of genetic material, evaluation of genetic trials and management of forest nurseries.
Dr Judy Loo of Canada's Forest Service paid a visit, under the programme of exchange of experts with Canada and the United States, and gave a course on genetic conservation at the Postgraduate College.
A meeting was held with the Study Group on Silviculture to determine in the near future joint actions for the development of research projects on the conservation of genetic resources of selected tropical tree species.
The following tasks are being carried out by the members of the Study Group to foster the conservation of forest genetic resources in the three countries of the region:
Task 29 - "Develop a full understanding of the systematics of Picea of North America as a tool for their utilization and conservation". In the case of Mexico, a scientific collaboration agreement exists between the US Forest Service's Institute of Forest Genetics in Placerville, California, and the Centro de Genética Forestal, AC de Chapingo, Mexico. Funding has been secured under this agreement for the collection of germplasm of populations of Picea in Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila and Nuevo León to study the genetic structure of the populations and assess their present status for purposes of genetic conservation.
With regard to task 29, the final draft of the paper "The mating system and genetic diversity in Martínez spruce, an extremely narrow endemic of Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental" was sent for publication to the Canadian Journal of Forest Research.
The manuscript of the work "Location of Endangered Spruce Populations in Mexico" and "Census of Picea chihuahuana" was terminated and sent for revision and subsequent publishing in a US journal.
Task 30 - "Evaluate the genetic structure of Mexican pine as a tool for their conservation and appropriate utilization". Related research projects have focused on species classified as threatened, rare or endangered and on others with wide genetic variability and commercial importance. A number of studies have been carried out using molecular genetic markers with species such as Pinus maximartinezii, Pinus pinceana and Pinus ayacahuite. Funding was also made available through the above-mentioned collaboration agreement with the US Forest Service.
Within Task 30: "Genetic structure and conservation of species of Pinus in Mexico" included the publication in a US scientific journal of a paper on the genetic diversity of Pinus maximartinezii, a rare endemic species of Zacatecas, Mexico.
Other tasks being carried out by members of the Study Group include:
Task 36 - "Explore the possibility of holding a workshop on forest biology in Mexico in the year 2000". Representatives of the National Institute of Forest, Agricultural and Livestock Research and SEMARNAP in the State of Yucatan are currently making arrangements for this event to be held in July in Merida, Yucatan.
Finally, another important activity is Task 38- "Develop an Internet page to establish international links with other researchers involved in projects for the conservation of genetic resources of other species and in other parts of the world". The aim is to be able to coordinate research currently underway in the countries of the region with that of countries in other regions of the world.
Internal relations successfully developed through the Group's activities in Mexico include the involvement of different government bodies and research institutes in the conservation and appropriate management of forest resources through the Mexican Network of Gene Banks promoted by the SEMARNAP's National Programme of Reforestation.
With respect to external relations, a number of US and Canadian experts have been involved in the running of seminars and workshops on the management and conservation of genetic resources.
This has helped bolster and improve the training of experts in this field. It is hoped that, with support from the Commission, experts from the three counties will continue to be involved in the running of further seminars and workshops.
One aim is to continue with the collaboration agreements to conduct further genetic studies for the conservation of threatened, rare or endangered species of Mexican pine.
Another is to seek financial help from the Commission, amounting to US$ 9 000, to hold a workshop in Mexico on the present status and the management of forest genetic resources for their conservation and appropriate utilization. This workshop is planned for the year 2001.