Oxford Forestry Institute (OFI)

Over the last 30 years the OFI has undertaken an extensive programme of research on forest genetic resources of a range of socio-economically important tropical tree species, largely funded by the Forestry Research Programme of the UK Department for International Development, DFID (formerly the Overseas Development Administration, ODA). This involved the field exploration, and collection of more than 7 000 seedlots, mainly in Central America and Africa, and distribution of seed for the establishment of international trial networks, seed orchards and genetic conservation plantings, as well as laboratory research to investigate taxonomic and genetic diversity. Seed has been sent to more than 900 recipients (academic institutions, research organisations, NGOs, government departments, research sections of commercial companies) in some 140 different countries. Over this period, these networks of species, provenance and progeny trials have yielded a large body of important data and information on the relative performance of the material as well as patterns of taxonomic and genetic diversity across a range of plantation and agroforestry species.

The seed was collected, in large part from natural populations, in collaboration with forest tree seed centres and forest research organisations in the countries of origin under a variety of collecting permits and research agreements between the relevant regulatory authorities and OFI, on the mutual understanding that material would be made available to research organisations (in line with the principles of the FAO Code of Conduct 1991). In addition to the transfer of seed for development and research purposes, a subset of this material, consisting of provenances identified as under threat in situ, was transferred in 1995 for preservation within the long term seed storage facilities of theRoyal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Changing research priorities, funding constraints and greatly enhanced national and regional capacities to carry out this sort of work in tropical countries, mean that OFI is no longer in a position to continue to maintain these seed collections, nor to continue distribution of seed for trials. It has been agreed that seed collections of the legume (and other agroforestry) tree species will be transferred to theInternational Centre for Agroforestry Research (ICRAF)in Kenya, while the pine seed will go to theDanida Forest Seed Centre (DFSC)in Denmark, who will continue to make small research quantities of seed widely available for research or tree improvement purposes. Under these new arrangements, priority will be given to researchers in developing countries, and the seed will continue to be made available free of charge, but the holders reserve the right to recoup handling/carriage costs. All seed has now been rationalised and shipped from OFI to ICRAF and DFSC.CAMCORE,CATIE, China, Mexico, and Zimbabwe have also received smaller quantities of seed for direct use within specific countries or regions. Small amounts of some seedlots suitable for laboratory-based research are being stored in Oxford under the umbrella of the Oxford University Herbaria and managed by Herbarium staff. This seed will remain available for distribution for small, laboratory-scale research requests.The associated hard copy documentation and database files (site descriptions, seed test data, history of seed distribution and trial establishment, etc) have been reviewed as part of the rationalisation exercise to ensure that relevant documentation accompanies seedlots whilst maintaining a basic archive in Oxford. Files at OFI have been rationalised and incorporated into the Oxford University Herbaria as a permanent hard copy archive, along with maintenance of the SISTEM+ database, which is currently being incorporated intoBRAHMS.

Although the OFI seed distribution programme has now effectively ceased, active research on forest genetic resources continues in Oxford. Current projects include aSourcebook on Central American Trees), the EU-fundedFRAXIGENresearch project on Ash in Europe and new work on indigenous domestication and diversity in Leucaena (seehttp://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/home/).

Contacts:

Legume / agroforestry seedlots:
Genetic Resources of Agroforestry Trees Unit,
International Centre for Research in Agroforestry,
P.O. Box 30677, Nairobi, KENYA
Tel +254 2 524161/524000 ext 4161 or via USA +1 650 833 6645
Fax +254 2 524001 or via USA +1 650 833 6645
E-mail: j.were@cgiar.org

Pine seed lots:
The Director
Danida Forest Seed Centre
Krogerupvej 21
3050 Humlebaek, Denmark
Phone 0045 49 19 05 00
E-mail: dfsc@dfsc.dk

Broadleaves (Cordia):
CATIE- BSF
CATIE 7170-137, Turrialba, Costa Rica
Tel: (506) 556-1933 - 556-6431
Fax: (506) 556-7766 - 556-1533
E-mail: wvasquez@catie.ac.cr
E-mail: bsf@catie.ac.cr

Small quantities of seed for laboratory-based research (e.g. in systematics, populations genetics):
Curator, Oxford Herbaria
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
OXFORD
OX1 3RB, UK

Note: As a consequence of major changes in structures and financing within the University the Oxford Forestry Institute has been fully incorporated into the Department of Plant Sciences. Research into forestry issues continues, as noted above, in the areas of ecology, silviculture, sustainable management and biodiversity (genetics to taxonomy). See the following URL:http://dps.plants.ox.ac.uk/external/For more information about OFI, visit the Web site:http://www.plants.ox.ac.uk/ofi/
last updated:  Thursday, April 19, 2007