CWR In Situ Strategy Helpdesk

National CWR flora methodology1

Introduction to national CWR strategy planning

There are various approaches to systematic CWR conservation, but as every country contains CWR diversity, their obligations as signatories to the CBD and ITPGRFA, or other policy instruments, require that they systematically conserve this diversity. Although the planning and implementation of a national CWR in situ conservation strategy will differ slightly from one country to another, there are some basic steps in the process that can be followed by all nations. The three primary steps in the production of a national strategy are:

  1. Preparation of a national CWR inventory – The foundation of a national CWR strategy is a taxonomic checklist of CWR diversity; therefore, the first step is to prepare a national CWR inventory.
  2. Prioritization of national CWR taxa – Once the included taxa are known, there is usually a need for a second step in which the CWR taxa are prioritized, particularly if the number of taxa exceeds the number that can be conserved using the available resources.
  3. Ecogeographic diversity analysis – The third step is to collate the available baseline ecogeographic data for the priority taxa and undertake threat assessment and gap analysis, which culminates in a clear national CWR strategy.

These three steps are expanded on in the model for development of national CWR strategies (Figure 1), which is explained in detail in these Helpdesk pages and illustrated with a case study for the UK (for further details, see Maxted et al., 2007). This model has been applied in several other countries, including Ireland (Markkola, 2005) Portugal (Magos Brehm et al., 2008a) and Switzerland (Häner and Schierscher, 2009).

The steps shown in the model require input at two organizational levels:

  • The national (PGR and/or conservation) authority level for the production of the inventory, establishment of taxon and site priorities and ensuring the conserved diversity is used;
  • The individual site level (protected areas (PAs) or other sites outside PAs that are rich in CWR diversity, such as agricultural field margins or roadsides), where PA managers, in collaboration with gene bank managers, are responsible for conserving actual populations in situ with back-up in ex situ collections.

Although the two levels of responsibility (national and individual) are interconnected, they can also be seen as distinct and with quite separate goals. The national CWR strategy developed for an individual country aims to ensure the conservation of the maximum taxonomic and genetic diversity of the country’s CWR. It leads to the conservation of priority CWR taxa in key protected areas, with back-up in ex situ collections, and has policy implications for national conservation and exploitation agencies, such as support for maintenance of key CWR hotspots or systematic collection and ex situ holding of representative CWR diversity. For individual CWR PA or gene bank managers, the aim is not only to ensure the conservation of the maximum CWR taxonomic and genetic diversity, but also to promote the use of the conserved diversity. Their contribution to the implementation of the strategy is more focused and practical in terms of conserving CWR; for example, it may involve the identification of CWR found in a single, existing PA, possibly re-focusing the management plan, or filling gaps identified in the gene bank’s CWR coverage.

Figure 1. Model for the development of national CWR strategies (Maxted et al., 2007)

Thus, the national approach to developing a CWR strategy is composed of various steps that lead to the selection of key PA sites and identification of diversity under-represented in ex situ collections, but should also be linked to multiple applications in individual PAs or targeted collecting to ensure the maximum taxonomic and genetic diversity of the country’s CWR are conserved. As such, the two levels of conservation activity, national and individual, must work together to ensure a successful national CWR strategy.

Although many PAs are likely to contain CWR, some will be regarded as more important; for example, those where CWR diversity of national importance is concentrated. While other PAs may not be considered of such critical national importance, they are likely to contain CWR diversity and it would therefore be useful to highlight the CWR that are present to raise the public profile of the reserve itself. In this context the selection of key PA sites where CWR should be conserved is comparable with Important Plant Areas (Anderson et al., 2005; Plantlife, 2008). IPAs are not legal site designations but are a virtual network of the very best sites for plants and fungi identified to support conservation actions and initiatives. IPA sites are selected on the basis of three criteria: threatened species, species richness/diversity and threatened habitats and were derived from the concept of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) used so effectively by Birdlife International to identify bird conservation priorities (Birdlife International, 2008). Thus, PA sites selected for their richness of CWR diversity might be referred to as Important CWR Areas (ICWRA) and once identified these could be form a virtual national, regional or global network that aids the actual conservation of CWR diversity as well as raising consciousness of the importance of CWR conservation.

1 The information presented in the national CWR flora methodology helpdesk pages is adapted from Maxted and Kell (2009) and Maxted et al. (in prep.). Please cite these references when referring to the national CWR flora methodology Helpdesk pages.

Follow the link below to start to work through the methodology. At any time you can return to the beginning or go to other steps in the methodology by using the menu on the left-hand side of the screen.

Step 1: Creating the national CWR inventory

Helpdesk references