Biodiversity, safeguarding and conservation
Within forests and agroforestry systems, the individual components of biodiversity (spanning from genes to ecosystems) are critical for productivity and resilience. FTA research focuses on different facets of biodiversity, including the conservation of trees (forest genetic resources [FGRs]); the optimal deployment of tree genetic resources (TGR), including inter- and intra-specific diversity in forest landscape restoration and multifunctional agricultural landscapes; and the impacts of agrobiodiversity on dietary diversity.
Over exploitation of forests and land conversion, coupled with climate change, pose major threats to conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of diverse flora and fauna. FTA research focuses on understanding the extent of these declines, their impacts on human wellbeing, and on policies and strategies to reverse these trends.
The effective use and safeguarding of FGRs remain highly undervalued. Most restoration, agroforestry and afforestation projects do not consider the importance of seed sourcing or species diversity in their planning.
There is a need to improve tree species as well as effectively protect their seed sources in situ for sustainable use by future generations. Identifying priority sources of tree genetic material still needs to be carried out in many tropical countries.
This priority activity will ensure effective and sustainable use of TGR through: (1) distribution maps of economically and/or nutritionally important and threatened tree species, and identification of key populations for protection; (2) prioritization tools for the establishment of Genetic Conservation Units for priority species; (3) seed transfer zone mapping to help in the choice of seed for restoration that is resilient to future climate change; and (4) capacity building of national partners to develop a roadmap for networks of Genetic Conservation Units for ecologically and economically important tree species.