Conservation is the management of human use of genetic resources so that they yield the greatest sustainable benefit to the present generation, while maintaining their potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations (FAO 19931). The objective of gene conservation is to maintain genetic diversity or variation sufficient to sustain a forest population in perpetuity (Helms 19982).
Successful gene conservation efforts should not be directed at maintaining a forest population in a given state forever, but rather at ensuring the long-term enhancement of the genetic diversity presently available to meet future human needs. Moreover, gene conservation efforts should not concentrate only on those tree species and populations that are commonly used today, but also to those that may contain variation that will be useful in the future.
Deforestation has been occurring in the tropics and subtropics for decades. There are many causes for this, including shifting cultivation, clearing for pasture, and uncontrolled wood harvesting.
Deforestation has adverse effects on important plant ecosystems, damages the environment, and can ultimately harm the local economy.
A more permanent impact is that the destruction of these unique forests represents an irreversible loss of species, provenances and gene complexes. This is particularly devastating in tropical and subtropical forests since little is known about the potential uses of many species.
Camcore has worked for the last 36 years to conserve some of this vanishing genetic material while it still exists. Indeed, many of the populations sampled in the 1980’s exist today only in conservation plantings established from Camcore’s collections in South America, southern Africa, and southeast Asia. Gene conservation is the underlying objective behind Camcore’s program.
1 FAO. 1993. Conservation of genetic resources in tropical forest management—principles and concepts. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Publication #107, Rome.
2 Helms, John A. 1998. The Dictionary of Forestry. Society of American Foresters, Bethesda, MD