Mediterranean forest genetic resources and climate change

            According to climate change projection scenarios, the Mediterranean will be one of the most affected regions in the World, with considerable foreseeable impacts on people, ecosystems and economies. Genetic diversity provides the fundamental basis for evolution of species that has enabled forests and trees to adapt to changing conditions for thousands of years. Adaptation has resulted in a unique and irreplaceable portfolio of genetic resources. Although the sustainable use of forest genetic diversity has a great potential to contribute in addressing new challenges and in maintaining economic, social and cultural values, and environmental services and benefits, the vast majority of forest genetic resources remain unknown and underutilized. Availability of specific information on status and trends in forest genetic resources is today woefully inadequate, and lack of information limits the capacity of countries and the international community to integrate forest genetic resources management into overall cross-cutting policies, including strategies to address climate change.

The objectives of the meeting are:
• To consider expected climatic changes and their impacts on forest ecosystems, discuss the role of forest genetic resources and diversity in adaptation to climate change, with special reference to the Mediterranean region (where woodlands and rangelands are considered together with forest ecosystems);
• To consider the incorporation of conservation and management of forest genetic resources concerns into national strategies to address climate change;
• To identify research and training needs in forest genetic resources management in a context of climate change in the Mediterranean region;
• To assess the availability of forest genetic resources information, and prepare for Mediterranean contribution to the first State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources report.

               Summary findings and recommendations will be presented to FAO Silva Mediterranea and concerned Regional Forestry Commissions (Africa, Europe and Near East), to the EFIMED Scientific Seminar “Knowledge-based management of Mediterranean forests under climate driven risks: the ways ahead” (Turkey, April 2010) and will contribute to feed the debate of the 8th CIHEAM Ministerial meeting on “ Effects on Climate Change on Food Security and Safety in the Mediterranean Region: Actions to be Taken” (Istanbul, 8-10 March 2010).

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