Forest genetic resources
1. Evaluation of field trials in arid and semi-arid zones
In 1979, FAO with financial assistance from UNEP and IPGRI, began a project entitled Genetic Resources of Arid and Semi-arid Zone Arboreal Species for the Improvement of Rural Living(1979-1987). Eleven countries in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world participated in the systematic collection of seeds of some 281 provenances of 43 species, mainly of the genera Acacia and Prosopis, and in the establishment of comparative trials. Participating countries included: Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Mexico, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Senegal, Sudan and Yemen. Danida Forest Seed Centre, DFSC (Denmark), CSIRO (Australia), CIRAD-Forêt (France) and Oxford Forestry Institute (UK) also collaborated in various stages of the project.
Summary information on earlier phases of the programme is available in Forest Genetic Resources Information No 16, 1988 'Final Statement of the FAO/IBPGR/UNEP Project on Genetic Resources of Arid and Semi-arid Zone Arboreal Species for the Improvement of Rural Living' (for reprints please contact us at the address below). Further progress was reported in Forest Genetic Resources No 23 in 1995 "Progress in the evaluation of field trials established within the framework of the FAO project on genetic resources of arid and semi-arid zone arboral species (french language only)."
Hand protecting a young Acacia Albida, Niger. Photo: Roberto Faidutti
A global evaluation of selected field trials was initiated in 1989 by FAO and DFSC in collaboration with national institutions. During 1990-1994, 26 trials in six countries (Brazil, Burkina Faso, India, Pakistan, Senegal and Sudan) were assessed. Individual assessment reports are being finalized, with a global synthesis, and all results are being made available on the DFSC Web site, International Trials of Acacia and Prosopis: Overview of results
2. A review of the effects of Prosopis introduction in Sahelian Africa
From the 1930's onwards, Prosopis has been introduced in many countries of the world, especially in dry and semi-arid zones, because of its capacity to withstand harsh environments and its potential in the restoration of degraded lands. In some areas, especially in Sahelian Africa, it has naturalized and is now a constituent of many natural and cultivated ecosystems and grazing lands. While the environmental, social and economic benefits brought by the tree are widely acknowledged, there is a growing awareness of its limitations, under inappropriate management or control measures , or in sensitive and fragile areas. FAO has launched an intersectoral approach to the issue, aimed at documenting the benefits brought by and drawbacks of the tree.
3. Selected Publications on Acacia and Prosopis
A number of documents on resources and uses of Acacia and Prosopis have been published by FAO, or in partnership with FAO's collaborators. Some of these documents are now available on line :
Prosopis tamarugo plantation: pods provide excellent fodder, Chile. Photo: Christel Palmberg Lerche