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Dynamic Conservation of Forest Genetic Resources in 33 European Countries

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Abstract

Dynamic conservation of forest genetic resources (FGR) means maintaining the genetic diversity of trees within an evolutionary process and allowing generation turnover in the forest. We assessed the network of forests areas managed for the dynamic conservation of FGR (conservation units) across Europe (33 countries). On the basis of information available in the European Information System on FGR (EUFGIS Portal), species distribution maps, and environmental stratification of the continent, we developed ecogeographic indicators, a marginality index, and demographic indicators to assess and monitor forest conservation efforts. The pan‐European network has 1967 conservation units, 2737 populations of target trees, and 86 species of target trees. We detected a poor coincidence between FGR conservation and other biodiversity conservation objectives within this network. We identified 2 complementary strategies: a species‐oriented strategy in which national conservation networks are specifically designed for key target species and a site‐oriented strategy in which multiple‐target units include so‐called secondary species conserved within a few sites. The network is highly unbalanced in terms of species representation, and 7 key target species are conserved in 60% of the conservation units. We performed specific gap analyses for 11 tree species, including assessment of ecogeographic, demographic, and genetic criteria. For each species, we identified gaps, particularly in the marginal parts of their distribution range, and found multiple redundant conservation units in other areas. The Mediterranean forests and to a lesser extent the boreal forests are underrepresented. Monitoring the conservation efficiency of each unit remains challenging; however, <2% of the conserved populations seem to be at risk of extinction. On the basis of our results, we recommend combining species‐oriented and site‐oriented strategies.

Conservación Dinámica de Recursos Genéticos Forestales en 33 Países Europeos
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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