Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources

Last session

Last session was held from 9 to 11 December 2008. Documentation on earlier sessions could be found under the "Sessions" header in the menu (left side).


What it is, what it does?

The Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources was established in 1968 at the request of the fourteenth session of the FAO Conference (1967), with a mandate to "help plan and coordinate FAO's efforts to explore, utilize and conserve the gene resources of forest trees and, in particular, help prepare detailed short- and long-term programmes of action, and to provide information to Member Governments". The panel carries out this mandate by:

  • systematically reviewing work in the field of forest genetic resources worldwide;
  • discussing priorities for action at the national, regional, eco-regional and global levels based on up-to-date information received from member countries;
  • making recommendations on the main focus and operational priorities of FAO, with due concern to collaboration, complementarity and coordination of programmes and activities with other international organizations in the field.

The members of the panel, appointed by the FAO Director-General, represent various regions of the world and cover a broad range of technical and scientific areas in the field of forest genetic resources. The work of the panel is supported by a network of national institutions which continually provides the panel and its secretariat with information on activities and priorities. The deliberations of the panel are closely followed by a range of national and international institutions and donor agencies which use its recommendations to guide action in this field. Based on information made available to it by countries and international organizations, the panel regularly compiles and updates regional lists of priority tree species, specifying their main uses and priorities for action in exploration, collection, conservation and wise use of their genetic resources (including improvement and breeding). While the priority lists are based on country-derived information, special attention is paid to those species that are of actual or potential importance to more than one country and for which action thus has an international dimension.

At its XV Session, held 9 - 11 December 2008 in Rome, the Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources emphasized that forests and sustainable forest management have a significant strategic role in achieving poverty alleviation, sustainable livelihood, economic development, combating land degradation, sustainable bio-energy production, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Forest genetic resources have a key role in this framework as genetic diversity is the basis for adaptation and resilience to climate change. The Panel recommended that appropriate attention be given to forest genetic resources in FAO programmes and projects to address climate change and other global challenges.

The Panel reiterated its recommendation that FAO should intensify its action in support to member countries in the management of forest genetic resources and that adequate resources be allocated from all identifiable sources to support the FAO programmes in forest genetic resources.

The Panel restated the importance of The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources (SoW-FGR) to be presented to the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) at its 14th sesson. The Panel developed an outline of the main chapters of the SoW-FGR with inputs from regional consultations. According to the proposed outline, The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources would address forest genetic resources of economic, environmental, social and cultural values. There would be a significant focus on those resources which are important for sustainable forest management, food security, poverty alleviation, and environmental sustainability. As the main input to preparing The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources would be Country Reports on Forest Genetic Resources, it is proposed that scope of the report be broad, covering forest genetic resources of species used for different purposes and managed or contained in the broad range of management systems. In this way, the Country Reports will provide the overall scope for the report. Country Reports would identify forest genetic resource use patterns and those resources under threat. The data and information analysis will provide insight on current management practices regarding forest genetic resources, in situ and ex situ genetic conservation activities, improvement and breeding programmes, infrastructures, international cooperation, and needs in resources and management capacity.

The Panel also highlighted the importance of examining a number of key issues in assessing the status and trends of forest genetic resources management, including: climate change, bioenergy, poverty reduction, forestry products supply enhancement, and methods and technologies in genetic conservation and tree breeding. As much as feasible, the impact of these issues on forest genetic resources will be examined in preparation of The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources through thematic studies.

The Panel recommended a broad scope and approach in undertaking preparation of The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources to enable documentation of country and regional specificities and the diversity of needs of user groups, which will lead to better understanding of status and trends pattern of forest genetic resources globally. A broad based country-driven approach will provide a basis to define priorities for action in the short-term, medium-term and long-term, and at global, regional and local levels. While the proposed scope of The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources is broad to consider the wide range of uses of forest genetic resources, and to accommodate regional differences and specificities.
last updated:  Tuesday, February 21, 2012