Establishment of a European
information system on forest genetic resources

About the project

Bioversity International developed the EUFGIS project (AGRI RES GEN 2005/009) together with partners in Austria, Denmark, France, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. The total budget of the project is € 1,107,721 and it is co-funded by the European Commission (DG Agriculture, 50% of the total budget) under the Council Regulation (EC) No 870/2004 on genetic resources in agriculture. The project was launched on 1 April 2007 for a period of 42 months.

The project is implemented in close collaboration with the European Forest Genetic Resources Programme (EUFORGEN) and all its member countries. Countries which have not yet joined EUFORGEN are also welcome to participate in the project activities. As of April 2009, a total of 35 countries have agreed to provide relevant data by nominating a national focal point to the information system.

The development of in situ gene conservation strategies for forest trees at pan-European level was long hampered by a lack of common minimum requirements for the dynamic gene conservation units. Furthermore, the countries were carrying out their FGR documentation work in various ways and collecting different types of data. All this has made the implementation of practical FGR conservation less efficient and also created problems for monitoring and reporting purposes. The project was designed to address these problems.

In addition to supporting European countries in their FGR conservation work, the new information system will also have many other uses. Firstly, it will ease the ongoing efforts by EUFORGEN, which has been collecting geo-referenced data on the in situ gene conservation units of forest trees for the development of so called ‘common action plans’ selected tree species. The information system will contribute to the finalization of these plans and help to identify gaps and overlaps in FGR conservation at pan-European level and throughout tree species’ distribution ranges. Subsequently the Member States, as well as other countries, can allocate their limited human and financial resources more effectively for FGR conservation.

At regional level, the information system is also needed for many reporting needs. The MCPFE process (Ministerial Conferences on the Protection of Forests) is monitoring implementation of sustainable forest management in Europe (one of its criteria focuses on conservation of biological diversity, including genetic resources, in forest ecosystems). The information system will also contribute to the implementation of the Community biodiversity strategy and in particular proving relevant FGR data for the ongoing SEBI2010 process (Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators). It will also provide better FGR data to the existing forest and biodiversity portals, such as the EUFOREST Portal (maintained by the European Forest Institute, EFI) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

At global level, the EUFGIS information system will provide harmonized data to the development of the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This report is expected to be released by 2013. In March 2009, the FAO Committee on Forestry discussed the development of the report and the specifically highlighted the role of EUFORGEN and EUFGIS in providing the European inputs to the process.

The development of the EUFGIS information system and its infrastructure is based on the experiences of Bioversity International in creating and maintaining EURISCO and SINGER. EURISCO is a online catalogue that provides information on the collections of crop genetic resources maintained in Europe. SINGER is the genetic resources information exchange network of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). It provides access to information on the collections of genetic resources held by the CGIAR Centres.