Forest genetic resources / Projects / China
Many plantations and shelterbelts in the Korqin Sandy Lands have been established by the Three North Shelterbelt Programme, although most of them are monocultures with limited species and genetic diversity, susceptible to pests and diseases. Increased species diversity and the diversification of the production base through the introduction of woody plants other than poplars and conifers, including shrubs and fodder species, is deemed essential to the long-term stability of the productive system. Native species are reported to contribute to increases in biodiversity and are given priority over introduced species, if their performance equals the one of exotic species. However, due to the severe environmental conditions in the Korqin, and the relative lack of viable alternatives, each additional species that can be planted and that survives and grows, be it native or exotic, is an important contribution.
Activities undertaken by the project range from information gathering and initial screening trials through to more detailed provenance collection and testing with species which had already shown their value such as the native Ulmus and Salix species.
When dealing with newly introduced species, the very process of seed collection, introduction, nursery production and planting-out results in selection through the failure of weaker individuals and provenances which cannot survive new conditions. Those individuals and provenances that survive are more adapted to the new location and are planted in secure locations to ensure their conservation for future investigations and use.
Several native species, that were common in the past, are becoming very rare in the Korqin Sandy Lands, and it was thought that their conservation is not only necessary out of historical reasons, but that their genetic material holds promise for future development. These species have been subjected to years of negative selection, so that the remaining individuals are of bad form and slow growth. Intensive screening was therefore started, at nursery stage, in the project framework.
FAO. 2002. Technical project review document. Rome.