The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources


Genetic diversity provides the fundamental basis for the evolution of forest tree species and for their adaptation to change. Conserving forest genetic resources is therefore vital, as they are a unique and irreplaceable resource for the future. 

Forest genetic resources management can be effective only if treated as an integral element of overall sustainable forest management. Conservation concerns should be integrated into broader national and local development programs, such as national forest programs, rural development plans and poverty reduction strategies, which promote cooperation among sectors.

However, there is no consolidated global picture on the status and trends of forest genetic resources, and a lack of estimators of the rate of genetic diversity loss. This limits the capacity of countries and the international community to integrate forest genetic resources management into overall cross-cutting policies. It is recognized that reliable general data on forest status and trends is of great importance to the efficient management of forest genetic resources. Forest-related information, however, largely refers to forest resources in general rather than to forest diversity and variation. Availability of specific information on the status and trends in forest genetic resources is today woefully inadequate. 

The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) acknowledged the urgency of conserving and sustainably utilizing forest genetic resources. With the support of the Committee on Forestry, the CGRFA requested that a State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources report be prepared and presented to the Commission in 2013.

The preparation of the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources was welcomed by the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The report on the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources will be prepared through a country-driven approach based on country reports and thematic studies.

The primary source of data and information for the preparation of the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources is Country Reports. The Country Report preparatory process took place in 2010 and 2011 and focused on the review of existing data and information and the identification of gaps and needs. Detailed guidelines were prepared to assist in the preparation of Country Reports, which can both serve as a strategic tool to guide national efforts to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources, as well as provide the basis for preparing the global report on the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources.

In Canada, the Canadian Forest Service sector of the Federal Department of Natural Resources was mandated to prepare the Country Report. To assist in this effort, a survey was prepared based on guidelines prepared by FAO. The survey focused on or covered specific aspects of chapters dealing with The Current State of Forest Genetic Resources, The State of in situ Genetic Conservation, The State of ex situ Genetic Conservation, The State of Use and Sustainable Management of Forest Genetic Resources and The State of National Programs, Research, Education, Training and Legislation. The survey was deployed across Canada to the CONFORGEN jurisdictional representatives for completion. Input was sought not only from jurisdictional governments but also NGOs such as universities, forest companies, botanic gardens, etc.

The Canadian report was completed and submitted to the FAO in April 2012. The report is available in English (PDF - 3.0 MB) and French (PDF - 3.2 MB)

"The State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources" recognizes that forest genetic resources make an important contribution to sustainable development through the provision of timber, food, fuel, and various environmental services. The report assesses the status and trends of forest genetic resources at the global level, based on country reports and regional syntheses.The themes covered in the report include: the state of the conservation and management of forest genetic resources, trends affecting the forest sector and their implications for genetic resources, institutional and policy frameworks for the conservation and management of forest genetic resources, the state of knowledge of current and emerging technologies, and future needs and required responses.

In June 2014 FAO released "The State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources" State of World's FGR (PDF - 6.4 MB). The report is based on information contained in 86 country reports. A synthesis of the world report was also prepared Synthesis (PDF - 12.6 MB)


The preparation of "The State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources" report assisted in the identification of the forest genetic resources priorities reflected in "THe Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Forest Genetic Resources " (GPA-FGR). The GPA-FGR was agreed upon by the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at its Fourteenth Regular Session and adopted by the Food and Agruculture Organization of the United Nations Conference in 2013. GPA-FGR priority areas for action at global, national, and regional levels include: improving the availability of, and access to, information on forest genetic resources; in situ and ex situ conservation of forest genetic resources; sustainable use, development and management of forest genetic resources; and policies, institutions and capacity building.

"The Global Plan of Action" identifies 27 strategic priorities Global Plan for Action (PDF - 3.1 MB).


"The State of North American's Forest Genetic Resources" was written to assist with the preparation of "The State of the World's Forest Genetics Resources Report" and considered forest genetic resources (FGR) in Canada, United States, and Mexico as identified in their respective country FGR reports to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States.

North America FGR Report (PDF 1.1 MB) and North America FGR Report Tables (PDF 0.8 MB).