Colin Kelleher, Sam Belton and Erica Fox
Forest Genetic Resources (FGR) are the basis on which the health of our forests depend as they are essential to adaptation. Genetic diversity enables tree populations to adapt to conditions and to optimise their performance. A greater level of genetic diversity is a buffer against biotic and abiotic change, while a lack of diversity increases the vulnerability of a population or species to changing conditions and pathogens.
International best practice for FGR conservation involves establishing a network of in situ populations as conservation units. European FGR are well served by the EUFGIS information system. This database holds information on FGR in Europe and gives access to detailed data on genetic conservation units of forest trees across Europe and beyond. It facilitates a standard approach to designate sites as part of an FGR conservation network.
GeneNet, a project led by the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin and funded by Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine aims to update the network of sites across Ireland.