"In East Africa, we have learnt how deforestation and the over-exploitation of forests are threatening the genetic diversity of anti-malarial tree species. For this reason, we are holding samples of most of the species with antimalarial qualities in our genebank and growing these trees in nurseries. Our genebank holds close to 200 species in total, of which at least 30 are known to have anti-malarial properties."
"It is critical that we gather as comprehensive data as possible about genetic diversity before this information is lost forever."
At the last conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2010, the importance of conserving and sustainably using forest biodiversity was highlighted, especially in relation to maintaining the resilience of forest ecosystems in the setting of human-induced climate change and other global challenges.
Forest tree species are generally long lived and extremely genetically diverse. One species can naturally occur in a broad range of ecological conditions. In addition, forest species have evolved under several periods of climatic change; their high genetic variability provides the capability to adapt to emerging climatic conditions.
"Forest genetic resources have provided the potential for adaptation in the past, and will continue to provide this vital role as we address the challenge of mitigating or adapting to further climate changes," says Souvannavong.
It will take two years for the final State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources to be prepared, and it will include information on status and trends and identify needs, gaps and priorities as the basis for developing a framework for action at national, regional, eco-regional and global levels.
"Conservation of forest genetic resources must be integrated into broader national and local development programmes, such as national forest programmes, rural development plans and poverty reduction
|Contact: Kate Langford|
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)