News Biodiversity

Finland’s forest genetic resources, use and conservation  (Natural resources and bioeconomy studies 4/2021) is an edited version of the second national report on the state of forest genetic resources in Finland that has been delivered to the FAO in June 2020, as contribution to the second FAO report on the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources. The official report, used jointly with the data that was submitted directly in an electronic format, is designed and written to support the global analysis. This edited version is somewhat shortened but still contains all the key information of the original report, making the national information available for an international audience.

The report covers the main features of the sustainable management of forest genetic resources, namely conservation, breeding and use. Genetic conservation covers almost all financially or ecologically important tree species in Finland. The total number of gene reserve forests in 2020 is 44, covering an area of 7 218 ha. Ex situ –collections include 9 species for which material was collected from altogether 314 natural populations. Finland has a long-term tree improvement programme for the six most important tree species. Breeding goals include volume production, timber quality and adaptedness to various sites and climates. Around 60‒70% of the seed for reforestation is produced in seed orchards. For the users of forest reproductive material there are new tools to assist in making the right choice of regeneration material but there is still a need to promote the use of these tools and to expand their usability to a wider selection of species.

The report identifies several needs for further developments.  For monitoring the role of reproductive material in the success of the regeneration it will be important to set up a geo-referenced system that keeps records on the origin that has been used at a given location. Furthermore, researched on the silvicultural options and their effect on the genetic diversity should be intensified. The most urgent needs for development of the conservation programme are the characterisation of the conserved material and the subsequent evaluation of the conservation network. Genetic information of all individual conservation units should be generated in a systematic way and this information needs to be made available for all stakeholders. Ideally the methods and descriptors would be harmonized at regional level to enable further development of the existing pan-European network and development of widely applicable genetic monitoring programme.

The two minutes animation The genetic diversity of trees is an insurance policy for the future of forests gives a quick look at why and how genetic conservation of forest trees is done in Finland.