Preparation of a report on The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources

Genetic diversity provides the fundamental basis for the evolution of forest tree species and for their adaptation to change. Conserving forest genetic resources is therefore vital, as they are a unique and irreplaceable resource for the future.

Forest genetic resources management can be effective only if treated as an integral element of overall sustainable forest management. Conservation concerns should be integrated into broader national and local development programmes, such as national forest programmes, rural development plans and poverty reduction strategies, which promote cooperation among sectors.

However, there is no consolidated global picture on the status and trends of forest genetic resources, and a lack of estimators of the rate of genetic diversity loss. This limits the capacity of countries and the international community to integrate forest genetic resources management into overall cross-cutting policies. It is recognized that reliable general data on forest status and trends is of great importance to the efficient management of forest genetic resources. Forest-related information, however, largely refers to forest resources in general rather than to forest diversity and variation. Availability of specific information on the status and trends in forest genetic resources is today woefully inadequate.

The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) of FAO acknowledged the urgency of conserving and sustainably utilizing forest genetic resources. With the support of the Committee on Forestry, the CGRFA requested that a State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources report be prepared and presented to the Commission in 2013.

The preparation of The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources was welcomed by the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The report on The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources will be prepared through a country-driven approach based on country reports and thematic studies. The Global Forest Resources Assessment process might serve as a model, and the two processes will be linked.

The primary source of data and information for the preparation of The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources will be Country Reports on Forest Genetic Resources. The Country Report preparatory process, taking place in 2010 and 2011, will focus on the review of existing data and information and the identification of gaps and needs. Detailed guidelines were prepared to assist in the preparation of Country Reports, which can both serve as a strategic tool to guide national efforts to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources, as well as provide the basis for preparing the global report on The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources. The need to establish national mechanisms to ensure opportunities for the participation of national stakeholders in the preparation of the Country Report is emphasized. Countries will be encouraged to hold national workshops and/or other means for consultations with indigenous and local communities and stakeholders in elaborating their Country Reports. Subject to the availability of extra-budgetary resources, limited financial assistance will be made available to support developing countries to prepare their Country Reports, including assisting them to conduct workshops and consultations.

During the same period of the global forest genetic resource database REFORGEN will be upgraded to serve as a dynamic and interactive information repository for The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources and further update and monitoring.

See also

Leaflet on The State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources

last updated:  Tuesday, June 26, 2012