Oxford Forestry Institute (OFI)

(Extract from MTA)

The Oxford Forestry Institute (OFI) has, for more than 30 years, been involved in collection of seed from wild populations of trees. This seed has been used for distribution to researchers in the tropics in order to evaluate performance of a variety of tree species over a range of sites and to investigate patterns of genetic variation. The approach of OFI is to support free exchange of seed and information between researchers in order to improve knowledge of the potential for various tree species to provide goods and services.

In response to current international interest in issues relating to transfer of germplasm OFI has recognised the need to formalise agreements with seed recipients in the form of a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). The MTA is designed to promote scientific exchange while at the same time recognising the responsibilities of seed recipients towards the countries which donated seed for experimentation. Furthermore, as most of the seed distributed by OFI is not indigenous to the recipient country, the MTA also highlights the need for extreme caution when considering the need to request seed. The following guidelines are designed to assist in this respect.

Warning: It is important that seed recipients consider the implications of introducing exotic species in relation to the potential threat of invasiveness. It is recommended that seed is requested only after consideration of these points:

  • Introductions should only be considered if clear and well-defined benefits to man or natural communities can be foreseen and demonstrated.
  • Introductions should only be considered if no native species is suitable for the purpose for which the introduction is being made.
  • Introductions should not be made into pristine or semi-natural habitats, reserves of any kind or their buffer zones and, in most cases, oceanic islands.
  • Introductions should not be made until risks of invasion have been assessed based on available data, including the autecology of the species, conditions of the area of introduction, reports of weediness from other areas, and the likelihood of interspecific hybridization with closely related species.
  • Introductions should be made initially in small, closely monitored field trials under quarantine conditions. Monitoring needs to include assessment of seed production and dispersal and natural regeneration into surrounding areas. Collection of seed from trials by station workers or visitors needs to be controlled by harvesting all seed before it ripens, or removing flowers.

Material Transfer Agreement for Seed Order

This organisation agrees:

  • not to claim ownership over the seed received or its progeny, nor to seek intellectual property rights or plant variety rights over that genetic material or information produced from work in which it is involved;
  • to ensure that any subsequent person or institution to whom it makes samples of the seed available is bound by the same provision;
  • to manage the seed and any trees grown from it in such a way as to minimise as far as possible any potential threat from the species becoming an invasive weed;
  • that the Oxford Forestry Institute does not accept liability for any consequences resulting from the use of the seed.

last updated:  Tuesday, July 8, 2003