Flagship 1: Tree genetic resources

Overview

A woman holds Garcinia Indica, a local fruit in Western Ghats, India, that can be used to make syrup and other products. Photo by E. Hermanowicz/Bioversity International

Trees are key for the provision of important products such as fodder, food, fuel, medicine and timber, services including soil health and fertility, and carbon sequestration. Appropriate management of TGR is key to devising productive and sustainable landscapes, including for forest restoration, as articulated in the Bonn Challenge.

Bringing appropriate wild trees into farms for production, with appropriate market development, has tremendous potential to increase food security and nutrition, improve the agroecology of farming systems, reduce pressure on wild resources and raise agricultural incomes. Integration of trees into farms thus has an important role for sustainable intensification and more resilient agricultural ecosystems, and as such supports the Global Action Plan for Agricultural Diversification.

Yet this potential is often far from being tapped. This is because species are often considered as monolithic units without proper consideration of the adaptive and productive genetic variation within them. In many places, trees are cultivated that are not matched to context, with poor yields and low-quality traits. This has led to inadequate results in preventing landscape degradation. In other places, agricultural intensification based on a few crops has paved the way for the simplification of landscapes and diets. This could have been prevented if more attention had been given to making food trees more productive, to support their integration into cropping systems. TGR management and use, in many countries, suffer from inadequate models and implementation tools, and lack support mechanisms for effective testing and upscaling.

Important knowledge gaps, which are critical for impact pathways, include where TGR hotspots occur, how to value TGR, how to best design and implement conservation strategies for these resources in the face of multiple threats, what tree domestication approaches best fit environmental and stakeholder contexts, and the effects of domestication on the sustainability of farming landscapes. Gaps in knowledge and in the application of knowledge also include how to ensure that growers can access the right tree planting material to meet their needs, using efficient, equitable and adaptable methods to do so.

Copyright 2018 @ CGIAR Research Program - Forests, Trees and Agroforestry