Genetic diversity is important for trees’ evolution and development as well as adaptation to a changing climate. By safeguarding genetic diversity, we ensure that essential adaptation occurs, and we preserve qualities that could prove useful.
Trees are critical to the biodiversity of everything that makes up a forest. Trees serve as hosts to many species and are important for humans as providers of ecosystem services connected to recreation and outdoor activities. In addition, many trees are part of production forestry, used either as Christmas trees or in parks and gardens. It is therefore vital to have robust forests and sufficient genetic diversity in all tree species, partly because we do not know what qualities we will need in the future.
The report “State of forest genetic resources in Norway 2020” is the Norwegian contribution to the FAO report “State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources” and presents the status of conservation, sustainable use and development of forest genetic resources in Norway.
The recommendations from the status report are that Norway, through holistic collaboration between environmental and agricultural agencies, should work actively to secure the genetic resources of several tree species.
Several conservation areas for forest genetic resources have been designated in established protected areas, which is a good way to take advantage of the existing infrastructure. Since conservation of genetic resources is not specifically defined as a goal in formal forest protection, it is important to ensure targeted facilitation, management and monitoring.
We currently have some knowledge of genetic diversity for 18 of the tree species in Norway, based on DNA analysis or studies of morphology and production characteristics. Spruce is the only tree we know a lot about. It is therefore important to gain more knowledge, including about tree species’ importance for the ecosystem.