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Establishment and implementation of in situ conservation priorities

What are the in situ conservation goals in CWR conservation planning?

The goal of in situ CWR conservation planning is to establish a national network of in situ conservation sites where long-term active conservation (in order to safeguard their genetic diversity) and sustainable use of CWR is carried out as a contribution to national, regional and global food security. Active in situ conservation should be backed-up with the periodic resampling of CWR populations for ex situ collections, which also helps promote sustainable exploitation.

What do we mean by establishment and implementation of in situ conservation goals?

Establishment means setting up the foundations of the National CWR In Situ Conservation Network for the long-term conservation of CWR, i.e. selecting provisional sites for active conservation based on CWR diversity and gap analyses. Implementation means the execution of this in the field by evaluating the adequacy of each individual site, designating the sites as CWR genetic reserves, developing site and species management plans and involving local communities to ensure CWR conservation is effective.

Why do CWR populations conserved in situ require management?

It is possible that CWR populations conserved in situ, may not require management. When selecting a site for in situ CWR conservation, the site is unlikely to have been selected unless it has an abundant and viable population of the target CWR taxon or taxa. However, the population may require some form of management intervention to bulk-up the population to ensure it is in excess of the minimum viable population to maintain genetic diversity. It may also be that the current management practice at the site is imprecise and management experimentation may be required to understand which interventions best promote an abundant and viable population of the target CWR taxon or taxa. Therefore, in practical terms, in situ CWR populations often require active management.

A National CWR In Situ Conservation Network may include various types of conservation sites, from single CWR taxon reserves to multiple taxa reserves, within the existing network of protected areas or outside protected areas in more informal management sites or even requiring the extension of the boundaries of existing protected areas so as to include important CWR taxa and populations—appropriate sites may be determined by CWR taxa diversity and/or by infra-specific diversity such as ecogeographic, genetic or trait diversity. To determine the actual number and mix of these different types of CWR genetic reserves that should be established and implemented, it is important to take a pragmatic and scientific approach. Ultimately, however, this is dictated by the resources available for in situ conservation, the governmental policy context at both the national and local levels and by NGO and local community involvement. It should be stressed that the practical implementation of the National CWR In Situ Conservation Network should have a policy context. Furthermore, national and local commitment is required to ensure the network’s long-term survival and to ensure set-up expenditure is not wasted—in situ conservation is a long-term and expensive commitment.

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