Conservation of genetic diversity

What is genetic diversity?

Genetic diversity means that individual representatives of a single species are all different in terms of their genomes. Genetic diversity within a species is part of biodiversity.

Gene reserve forests

What is a gene reserve forest?

A gene reserve forest is an area, in which the gene pool of a specific tree species is preserved as diversely as possible in natural conditions in the original growth location. A gene reserve forest is the most important preservation method for spruce genetic resources.

Why do we need gene reserve forests?

Gene reserve forests protect the genetic diversity of tree species that grow naturally in Finland. The more diverse the gene pool of a species is, the better it can adapt to changing environmental conditions, such as climate change.

What is Luke’s role in gene reserve forests?

Luke is responsible for the conservation of forest genetic resources in accordance with Finland’s National Plant Genetic Resources Programme. Luke prepares management plans for gene reserve forests in cooperation with landowners and ensures that measures that promote genetic diversity are carried out.

Luke also reports the progress of the conservation of forest genetic resources through international processes, the most important of which are Forest Europe (indicator 4.6 (Genetic resources)) and the FAO Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Forest Genetic Resources.

Is the conservation of genetic diversity by means of gene reserve forests an international model?

Yes, conservation using gene reserve forests is a European model. The European Forest Genetic Resources Programme (EUFORGEN) is a European cooperation body, which has defined minimum requirements based on research data for gene reserve forests and maintains a database of all gene reserve forests in Europe.

Management of gene reserve forests

How are gene reserve forests tended?

Gene reserve forests are tended by means of forest management measures that promote regeneration and maintain genetic diversity. Forests must always be regenerated based on their own natural origins. Forest management aims to increase seed and seedling production, and thus maintain and promote the evolutive potential of the conserved species in the long term.

How do forest management measures promote genetic diversity?

The aim of gene reserve forests is that as many individual trees as possible flower and produce pollen and seeds, and that as many new generations as possible are grown in gene reserve forests. Rapid regeneration promotes evolution and adaptation to changing climate conditions. For this the regeneration cycle has to be short and all age categories are represented in individual forests. This is why management measures, such as fellings, are required repeatedly.

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