NAIROBI (5 May 2011) A workshop in Nairobi, Kenya last week saw representatives from 43 African nations participate in an ambitious project to document the status of the world's forest genetic resources; a vital step in conserving and sustainably managing forests.
"Forest genetic resources are unique and irreplaceable; from plants that provide timber and essential nourishment when crops fail to those that may be used in future medicines," explains Oudara Souvannavong, Senior Forestry Officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and coordinator of the project.
"It is urgent that we document the status of these resources," says Souvannavong. "This knowledge is essential if we are to conserve and sustainably manage forests across the globe."
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is coordinating the project in collaboration with Bioversity International, the World Agroforestry Centre and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
This is the first time such a study has been undertaken for forest genetic resources, while many livestock and crop genetic resources are already well documented.
The Nairobi workshop is the first in a series of workshops in the region designed to guide African country-driven reports that when combined with reports from other continents will comprise the State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources.
"Without this knowledge, the trees that millions of people rely on may be threatened," said Dr Ramni Jamnadass, Global Project Leader, Tree Genetic Resources and Domestication at the World Agroforestry Centre.
"In Africa, we expect to cover more than 3,000 species," she adds. "This includes trees inside and outside forests that people depend on for food, timber, fodder, fertilizer and other uses."
Dr Jamnadass further explains how conserving genetic diversity is safeguarding against future risk.<
|Contact: Kate Langford|
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)