Ex situ conservation

FAO has supported the evaluation of a number of ex situ conservation stands established within the framework of an FAO/UNEP project in the 1980s, with a view to develop methodologies for ex situ conservation, and to conserve and manage germplasm of a number of valuable provenances of tree species used in forest plantation establishment. A total of 12 countries collaborated in the project, or have later joined in the activities, including Brazil, Congo, Cuba, Cote D'Ivoire, India, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand and Zambia.

Aerial view of pine plantations managed by the Fiji Pine Commission. Photo: Masakazu Kashio

Danida Forest Seed Centre, Denmark (DFSC), now part of Forest & Landscape Denmark (FLD) provided technical and financial assistance to the programme, which was carried out in partnership with national institutes in the participating countries and in close collaboration with other international organizations active in this field.

The evaluation contributed to the development of methodologies and the publication of practical guidelines for ex situ conservation of forest genetic resources published by FAO, IPGRI (now Bioversity International) and FLD.


Within the framework of the Global Programme for the Improved Use of Forest Genetic Resources outlined by the FAO Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources in 1969/70, pilot ex situ conservation stands of selected provenances of, among other, tropical pines and eucalypts, had been established in a number of countries since the early 1970's.

Objectives and outputs of the programme

The overall objective of these activities were to improve the conservation of forest genetic resources of priority species and provenances at national level. The immediate objective is to help provide options, methodologies and practical guidelines for the establishment and management of ex situ conservation areas, as a component of national conservation programmes.

Activities and outputs included:

  • review of the place, role and complementarity of ex situ conservation in relation to other strategies of genetic resource conservation;
  • preparation of an overview and evaluation of the status of existing ex situ conservation stands in forestry to determine whether these stands have met the specified objectives at national and international levels, or can be expected to do so when in full seed production;
  • recommendations on the establishment and management of ex situ conservation stands of forest tree species and provenances, based on experiences, field evaluation results and in-country discussions;
  • recommendations on future action, including proposals for applied research in support of establishment and management of ex situ conservation stands.

Due attention was given to action and requirements at both national and international levels.

The fieldwork was finalized in early 1999, and the first results of the programme were be published by DFSC in 2004.

last updated:  Thursday, January 6, 2011