By Mark Kinver
Forest species are coming under increasing pressure from human activities and climate change, and face the risk of extinction, the UN warns.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published a global action plan to improve management of the world’s forest genetic resources.
It describes forest ecosystems as “essential refuges for biodiversity”.
The call for action comes ahead of a key UN forestry meeting, which is being held in Rome at the end of June.
“Data from 86 countries illustrate that insufficient awareness of the importance of forest genetic resources… often translate into national policies that are partial, ineffective or non-existent,” explained Linda Collette, secretary of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA).
“Only about 3% of the world’s tree species are actively managed,” she added.
“Governments need to act and implement the global plan of action.”
The action plan describes forest genetic resources (FGR) as the “heritable materials maintained within and among tree and other woody plant species that are of actual or potential economic, environmental, scientific or societal value”.
The document identifies 27 priorities, which have been grouped into four areas:
- Improving the availability of, and access to, information on FGR
- Conservation of FGR
- Sustainable use, development and management of FGR
- Policies, institutions and capacity-building