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Strengthening Mediterranean Nursery Systems for Forest Reproductive Material Procurement to Adapt to the Effects of Climate Change

TF Strengthening Mediterranean Nursery Systems for Forest Reproductive Material Procurement to Adapt to the Effects of Climate Change

Task Force Coordinator:

Giovanbattista de Dato, Italy

Background and Objectives

This Task Force reflects aims and targets of WG4 "Forest genetic resources in the Mediterranean Region" in the framework of the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry questions of FAO Silva Mediterranea (SM).

It may seem very technical and perhaps ambitious, but this relatively neglected topic is addressed to make basic scientific information available to maintain diversity in the forest nursery production chain, to apply serious and scrupulous certification criteria and, finally, to support the adaptation of future forests to environmental changes. This adds a further value to the ecosystem services provided by silviculture.

The accelerated degradation of forests in the Mediterranean-like regions, due to the interaction of multiple natural and anthropogenic stressors, poses a serious threat to the diversity of forest genetic resources (FGR). The risk of irreversible losses of many endemic forest tree species/populations or unique marginal peripheral ecotypes is becoming nowadays more intense in these frequently biodiversity hot spot regions, due to the climate change effects. The socio-economic instability of the regions contributes also to the intensification of these effects.

Faced with this alarming situation, national and international relevant bodies (EU, FAO, EFI, IUFRO...) require research outputs to develop strategies and actions for implementing conservation and proper management of forest genetic resources in view of future scenarios.

In this socio-ecological context, however, the high importance of the nursery supply chain of the forest reproductive material (FRM) is largely neglected in both planning and applications, despite of its short-term effectiveness compared to the generally long times and uncertainties of the forest sector. The nursery chain needs to be better supported by new technologies, such as based on GIS and MAS (Marker Assisted Selection).

Those who know Mediterranean-type environmental conditions in the world, also know how often the application of nursery practices is disregarded and not enough attention is paid to preserve and certify diversity and variability of reproductive forest materials.

Thus, forest nursery needs to be recognized for its significance, be strengthened in the genetic diversity hot spot regions and be decisively directed towards achieving a high adaptive value, through maintaining and enlarging genetic diversity of forest trees.

These concepts are stressed by the FAO Global Plan of Action for forest genetic resources (2014) and by the Convention on Biological Diversity (2009), by the FAO COFO XXIV statements: However, the proposed TF will be a source of knowledge also for other socio-ecological contexts in the world and a global perspective will be given by the participation of relevant IUFRO Units.

An effective nursery supply chain, beside the agronomic nursery techniques, should nowadays consider the whole process, from the genetic improvement through the selection of different forest basic materials up to the development of decision tools for the proper management of FRMs in relation to the future scenarios.

General Objectives

  • The establishment of a regional strategy for the conservation and sustainable management of FGR is an urgent priority for new plantations for ecosystem services and social/urban forestry.
  • Enabling the Mediterranean countries to integrate into similar systems of conservation and management of FGR through international frameworks, such as EU directives and OECD scheme.
  • Planning the phased implementation of the regional strategy by an integrated action among FAO Silva Mediterranea Working Group 4 and of IUFRO WP 2 02 13.
  • To strengthen technical capacities in the field of monitoring and management of FRMs to keep their genetic variability intact and adopt their proper use, either throughout the nursery system, and at the sites of plantations.
  • To have the opportunity to support the preparation of the upcoming 2023 State of Mediterranean Forests by FAO.

Specific objectives

To primarily develop an information base on Mediterranean FGR, conceived as a dynamic tool to adapt their conservation and management to future scenarios, several steps should be addressed as:

  • to set the characteristics of a decision-making tool to be used for the nursery supply chain.
  • in the above context, a GIS based tool (supported by a database) will be investigated and possibly settled to make available data on FGRs. This targeted tool is subject of EUFGIS activities; however, an operational transfer functions developed in Nordic Countries for provenance will be also tested;
  • a compiled regional register of basic materials will be the major output of the TF. It will be basic to plan dynamic measures in relation to both legislative and adaptive needs driven by the occurring environmental changes.
  • Alongside the above, compiled technical and scientific information and guidelines will be provided to the stakeholders, in order they can adapt their nursery networks based on shared scientific information.

This Task Force will target objectives with four main tasks divided into several sub-Tasks, where the contribution of participants will be addressed: A database of FGR, The register of basic materials and legislation, Testing and developing a decision-making tool at experimental level with some study case, Dissemination. Each task is addressed to produce out-puts of technical basic usefulness as databases and registers as well as guidelines on several topics. Each task will deliver an authoritative review (state-of-science) paper within two years, for publication in a highly-recognized journal. Authors are encouraged to include socio-economic remarks at the end of the paper. A comprehensive final report will be prepared in form of position paper by integrating all modules and pillars.

Read more about Tasks and subtasks: PDF for download.