The Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism

Forestry working paper: Delivering tree genetic resources in forest and landscape restoration


16 January 2024, Rome – Ensuring the availability of seeds and seedlings from a range of tree species is crucial if we are to meet global targets on the restoration of degraded forests and landscapes, according to a new forestry working paper from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT

Currently, there are not enough site-adapted, genetically diverse tree seeds and seedlings to achieve forests and landscape restoration on the scale that is being planned, explains the working paper, Delivering tree genetic resources in forest and landscape restoration: A guide to ensuring local and global impact.

When tree species are used that are not suited to a particular environment, or when too many seeds or seedlings of the same species or from a single source are used in restoration projects, the trees are less likely to thrive. Lack of suitable seeds and seedlings is already resulting in delays, increased costs or in some cases the failure of restoration projects, the paper says.

According to the paper, accounting for species and genetic diversity as well as appropriate numbers of trees in restoration is crucial for the productivity, resilience and long-term viability of restored tree populations. It can also contribute significantly to the conservation of native tree species, and align restoration efforts with local needs, preferences, and traditional knowledge related to the species.

The paper presents 13 case studies illustrating opportunities and solutions being explored in different countries. These include:

  • the use of the DNA metabarcoding technique in Lebanon to identify the relationships between tree species and mammals as seed dispersers, which is essential for the long-term viability of tree populations;
  • establishing a seed source certification scheme to ensure high quality, diverse seeds and seedlings in Indonesia;
  • using molecular techniques in combination with climate change models to identify genetically diverse tree populations in India; and
  • creating a national inventory of genetic diversity across large numbers of tree species with potential for climate resilience in Australia.