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The preparation of a CWR checklist can be seen as an eight stage process: (i) determine the geographic scope (if not national), (ii) establish whether a regional CWR checklist already exists, (iii) determine the scope of the CWR checklist, (iv) produce a digitized list of crops, (v) produce a digitized list of the national flora, (vi) match the crop genera against the floristic checklist and generate the checklist, (vii) annotate the CWR checklist, and (viii) make the checklist available to users.

1. Determine the geographic scope

Discuss and agree the geographic scope of the checklist (i.e. whether to cover the whole country or a sub-national unit such as a region). CWR checklists of different sub-national units in a country can eventually be compiled to create a national CWR checklist.

2. Establish whether a regional CWR checklist exists

Where a regional1 CWR checklist exists, as in Europe (Kell et al. 2005, 2008) and the SADC region (see here more examples), it may be filtered for a specific country to generate the national CWR checklist. If using this approach, it is important to harmonize the species names obtained from the regional inventory with the existing national flora checklist using the following methods: (a) consult national floristic experts or target taxon specialists and review recent classifications of the group published in revisions and monographs in order to decide which is the appropriate classification to use, (b) collate all the published taxonomic data available for the more obscure groups that may lack a recent revision or monograph, (c) compile all the common synonyms of each taxon and convert all population, accession or other source data to the name used by the accepted classification to avoid nomenclatural confusion (but retaining the initial ascription for reference). Online taxonomy checkers can be used for this purpose (e.g. Taxonomic Name Resolution Service v3.2).

3. Determine the scope of the CWR checklist

The scope of the CWR checklist should be discussed and agreed with the various stakeholders in order to decide which wild relatives of which crops and crop gene pools to include. The choices may be partially dependent on the availability of crop data and digitized flora, along with financial resources and human capacity.

  • Nationally cultivated crops versus crops cultivated elsewhere but with CWR that occur in the target geographic area – Given the high level of interdependence among countries with respect to the conservation and use of PGRFA (see Khoury et al. 2016), it is highly advisable that all crops (nationally and globally grown) are considered when preparing the checklist, as all countries depend on CWR diversity that occurs in other countries for the improvement of their crops.
  • Major food crops versus minor and underutilized crops, forage and fodder crops, or even forestry, industrial, ornamental and medicinal crops – A step of prioritization or selection of crops/crop groups prior to the development of the CWR checklist may be undertaken. A floristic approach to the development of the CWR checklist will comprise all CWR that occur in a geographically defined area, whereas a monographic approach will produce a checklist of CWR of one, or several selected or priority, crop gene pools.
  • Native CWR versus native and introduced CWR – This is a pragmatic decision based on these species’ importance in crop breeding programmes. Note that an introduced CWR may have adapted to particular environments hence developing adaptive traits that might be of interest for crop improvement.

In general, the more inclusive the checklist, the greater its use. Therefore, a broad geographic and crop scope is recommended where possible. This will result in a large number of CWR listed in the checklist. Subsequently, the checklist will be prioritized to identify CWR requiring the most immediate conservation action, reducing it to a manageable number of taxa. Nevertheless, the monographic approach may be practical, though inevitably its less inclusive scope may mean that the exercise will need to be repeated when sufficient resources are available for a more comprehensive approach.

4. Produce a digitized list of crops

Several sources may need to be consulted when compiling a list of crops, if that list is not already available. Key sources include:

  • Regional or national crop checklists.
  • Underutilised/neglected crop lists.
  • Individual crop studies.
  • National, regional or international agricultural statistics (e.g., EuroStat; FAOSTAT).
  • Crop genebank accessions.
  • Expert consultation.

Any non-digitized source of crop data can be scanned and converted to a digital file. There are several freely available optical character recognition (OCR) softwares online (e.g. Microsoft Office OneNote) and they also come with most scanners. As 100% recognition accuracy is difficult to achieve, the scanned information will have to be confirmed manually. The resulting digitized list of the crops/crop genera should then be made available.

5. Produce a digitized list of the national flora

Countries usually have some form of national floristic checklist or Flora. When either of these is unavailable it may be possible to: (a) use the Flora of a neighbouring region (e.g. the Flora of Turkey lists many of the species found in Syria)—it then needs to be recognized that there may be taxa present in neighbouring countries that are absent in the target country and vice versa), (b) use regional or global plant checklists to extract wild species lists for the country (e.g. GBIF and see more resources here), or (c) undertake a herbaria and genebank survey of those specimens and accessions recorded in the country to produce a national flora checklist.

Any non-digitized Flora checklist can be scanned and converted to a digital file. There are several freely available optical character recognition (OCR) softwares online (e.g. Microsoft Office OneNote) and they also come with most scanners. As 100% recognition accuracy is difficult to achieve, the scanned information will have to be confirmed manually.

6. Match the crop genera against the floristic checklist and generate the CWR checklist

Once the digitized list of crops and Flora checklist are available, the crop genera are matched digitally with the Flora genera and all the matching taxa are, by applying the generic definition of CWR, the CWR. Once the draft CWR checklist has been generated it should be validated through consultation with appropriate floristic and monographic experts as well as national stakeholders in order to resolve minor errors and to engender stakeholder buy-in to the project. A checklist and inventory template for compiling the CWR checklist is currently being developed.

7. Annotate the CWR checklist

If, in order to prioritize CWR for active conservation, there is a need to collate additional information for all CWR in the checklist, then the resulting checklist is called an annotated CWR checklist. See here for criteria to be used to priroitize CWR taxa.

8. Make the CWR checklist available to users

The CWR checklist should be made public and available to users, either via a web-enabled database, a pdf file or a publication. The CWR portal includes a depository of, among other information, CWR checklists from all around the world.


1 Region is defined here as a geographic area comprising different countries (e.g. Europe, Mediterranean region, SADC region, Sub-Saharan Africa,) rather than a sub-unit within a country.

The Interactive Toolkit for Crop Wild Relative Conservation Planning was developed within the framework of the SADC CWR project www.cropwildrelatives.org/sadc-cwr-project (2014-2016),
which was co-funded by the European Union and implemented through ACP-EU Co-operation Programme in Science and Technology (S&T II) by the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States.
Grant agreement no FED/2013/330-210.