...Conservation of genetic diversity is the key element in conservation of biodiversity ! .......

Forest genetic resources are considered as biologic material (populations, sub-populations, demes, single trees or their generative or vegetative parts) containing useful genetic information of actual or potential value (ecological, economic, tree breeding, etc). Forest genetic resources are the national wealth of each country, that guarantee the sustainability of biological resources, existence and continuity of all forms of life, including humans. The conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources is one of key components of modern sustainable forestry and nature conservation.   Meteliai forests
     
  The value of genetic resources depends on genetic diversity - the higher diversity the more valuable genetic resources. Genetic diversity which characterises the genetic variability between and within populations of species is a very important component of bio-diversity. In situation of fast global and local ecological changes, the possibilities for survival, reproduction and evolution of species to the great extent depends on genetic variability. Therefore, conservation of genetic variability has a crucial importance for successful conservation of bio-diversity.
   
In recent years there is increasing understanding that conservation of forest genetic resources must be based on evolutionary aproach. To cope with continuous changes of environment and with uncertain future the gene conservation has to be aimed at conservation of the evolutionary potential of a species. For that purpose a high genetic diversity has to be promoted and good conditions created for survival, increasing adaptation and regeneration of gene conservation population. Sustainable gene conservation has to be based on specialy designed network of gene conservation areas established over a wide range of ecological conditions. Both conserved in situ (as genetic reserves) and ex situ gene resource populations (as progeny test plantations) have to be dynamically managed to guarantee sustainability of populations during all stages of its ontogenesis, to secure successful regeneration and continuous development.   Oak reserve in Vidzgiris
     
    In Lithuania, the system of forest gene conservation, genetic studies, tree breeding and seed farming has been developed during 40 year period. At present it consists of numerous different units in situ and ex situ: strict genetic reserves, genetic reserves, seed reserves, seed stands, experimental plots, plus trees, progeny test and experimental plantations, archives of provenances, populations, archives of clones, arboretum, collections in Gene Bank, seed orchards, etc. located all over the country.
     
The new system of forest gene conservation and tree breeding in Lithuania, that is under development, is based on Multiple Population Breeding System (MPBS) concept and consists of networks of small sub-populations, both natural in situ as well as synthetic ones ex situ established over a broad array of eco-climatic conditions in different forest eco-regions of the country and dynamically managed in order to guarantee sustainability of subpopulations, successful regeneration and development in variety of directions. To be efficient and cost saving the forest tree breeding and gene conservation is simultaneous and combined into joint National tree breeding and gene conservation program.   Reserve in Prienai forests
    Photos by Romas Barauskas and Alfas Pliura

E-mail:apliura@pub.vdu.lt

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