In situ Conservation of CWR - eLearning Modules

Welcome to the eLearning Modules complementing the In situ Conservation Manual of CWR. These modules have been developed to help conservationists gain preliminary insight into the tools and methods involved in the effective conservation of CWR. The goal of the Modules is to spread information on in situ conservation of CWR in order to enhance conservation of CWR, build the capacity to use this information and raise awareness of the potential of CRW for improving agricultural sustainability.

Please click on the frames below to access each eLearning Module.

In each module, in the Additional Resources column, you will be also be able to access the corresponding chapters of Crop Wild Relatives: a Manual of in situ conservation and their French translation.

The importance of Crop Wild Relatives

CWR are sources of plant genetic diversity. In the efforts to secure global food supply for mankind CWR constitute vital resources. The wild relatives can be found around the world and protection of the genetic diversity both in situ and ex situ is essential.

CWR in the UNEP/GEF Project Countries

The UNEP/GEF project, 'In situ conservation of crop wild relatives through enhanced information management and field application’ presents an overview of the situation of CWR in the partner countries: Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan.

In situ conservation of CWR

In situ conservation (in nature) maintains natural evolutionary processes and allows generation of genetic variation. Conservation of CWR mainly focuses on the potential use of genetic traits and the in situ approach is a useful method to reach conservation objectives.

Planning and partnership building

Conservation is the result of an intense planning process which requires coordination, prioritization and communication. Effective planning and partnerships can lay the foundation for successful in situ conservation.

Participatory approaches

The philosophy of participation gives guidance in how to involve concerned local parties in a CWR in situ conservation process. This module introduces the concept of community participation and participatory approaches applicable for CWR in situ conservation.

National Strategies/ Action Plans

CWR’s unique character and importance require special care and attendance. The development of a specific national strategy or action plan can provide a coherent approach for conservation and use of CWR.

Selection and prioritization

Resources, both human and financial, for the conservation of CWR are often limited. In many instances it would be impossible to initiate conservation efforts for every species. As such, species and populations must be prioritized for conservation.

Ecogeographic surveying

Before any conservation action can be undertaken, as much information about the target species as possible needs to be gathered to make appropriate decisions when developing a conservation strategy.

Protected areas and CWR conservation

Protected areas constitutes a main element in the conservation strategies of most countries. Conservation actions at various levels are necessary actions to appropriately control, mitigate or eliminate the threats to CWR.

Species management/ recovery plans

Actions taken to maintain viable populations are referred to as species management, conservation or recovery plans. The challenge for CWR conservationists is to draw on this accumulated experience and adapt it to the special requirements of genetic conservation.

Conservation outside protected areas

CWR conservation strategies are often aimed for species/populations occurring outside protected areas. Conservation easements are agreements between landowners and a conservation organization for the protection of a certain area or species.

Complementary ex situ conservation actions

It is important to complement in situ conservation activities with ex situ actions (in genebanks or botanic gardens) in order to ensure the maximum genetic diversity of target species is safely conserved.

Monitoring to assess conservation actions

The monitoring process consists of making reliable observations from nature to detect, measure, assess and draw conclusions as to how species and ecosystems are changing. Monitoring is undertaken at various scales: from the population level to the entire biosphere.

Adapting to global change

Conservation of biodiversity has been based on the assumption that we live in a dynamic but slowly changing world. This must be reconsidered in light of the rapid rate of change to which our planet is being subjected. These changes are collectively referred to as global change.

Capacity building - a step by step guide

Capacity building supports sustained in situ CWR conservation. Regions rich in genetic diversity of CWR tend to have a low level of skilled specialists. Hence, capacity building must be a major component of the process of planning and implementing CWR in situ conservation.

Communication and public awareness

It is of particular importance to form an effective communication strategy in order to raise awareness of the need to protect and conserve CWR.