The Natural Resources Institute Finland coordinates and implements Finland’s national animal genetic resources programme for agriculture and forestry together with a range of stakeholders. The main objective of the programme is to guarantee the genetic diversity of species of domesticated animals traditionally bred in Finland.

Environmental conditions and breeding techniques vary both geographically and temporally. This is why it is important to maintain as genetically diverse a stock of animal genetic resources as possible.

This goal is pursued by setting up special conservation herds for native breeds of domesticated animals that have adapted to Finnish conditions, by maintaining frozen gene banks and eggs, and by ensuring that animal breeding programmes balance the development of production capacity, health, and fertility traits alike.

Animal genetic resources programme

The national animal genetic resources programme covers horses, chickens, dogs, sheep, bees, cattle, reindeer, pigs, and goats. Of these species, the genetic resources programme covers the breeds that have been bred in Finland for at least dozens of generations.

Kuva: Arto Mäkeläinen
Photograph: Arto Mäkeläinen

The animal genetic resources programme has five main aims:

  1. Our indigenous breeds will not become extinct
  2. Indigenous breeds are maintained in an economically sustainable way
  3. The genetic variability of domesticated animal breeds remains as broad as possible
  4. A balanced development of production capacity and sustainability is taken into account in breeding programmes
  5. Knowledge and awareness of animal genetics, animal breeding, and genetic resources are maintained and strengthened

The animal genetic resources programme serves the needs of administrative authorities, conservationists of native breeds, animal breeding organisations, teachers, other staff, and students of natural resources schools, and researchers and authors in the field of natural resources and other fields. The Natural Resources Institute Finland also supplies information on Finland’s national animal genetic resources to international genetic resources organisations.

The Natural Resources Institute Finland makes decisions on which genetic material and from which animal species are to be frozen for long-term conservation and plays an important role in the development and breeding of special conservation herds, i.e. living gene banks.

The Natural Resources Institute Finland’s other nationwide duties include communications and research to promote the characterisation, conservation, and sustainable use of genetic resources. The Natural Resources Institute Finland represents Finland in international genetic resources organisations, in the NordGen Council for Farm Animal Genetic Resources and project teams, in the European Regional Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources (ERFP), and in workshops of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

Picture on top of the page: Arto Mäkeläinen