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ABSTRACT: European native plant diversity is currently suffering erosion and extinction and thus, it is crucial to improve conservation strategies to maintain this essential resource. If unchecked, this genetic erosion and species extinction will cause unnecessary and irreversible harm to the economy and social well being of Europe. Much plant biodiversity is undoubtedly found in the existing 9654 European protected areas that cover 1,066,358 km2, but clearly targeted and active conservation of priority plant species is required within these protected areas. To help ensure more efficient long-term sustainable conservation, a novel approach to the in situ conservation of European plants, notably crop wild relatives, is suggested. The purpose of this approach is to know what plant genetic resources (PGR) we have, where they are located and to assess whether the current network of protected areas includes a representative sample of European PGR diversity. The generation of in situ conservation and management plans for PGR populations in existing protected areas can significantly improve the present conservation status. Additionally, the identification of gaps of certain PGR in current protected areas can provide the basis for the designation of new complementary PGR in situ reserves.

Category: Papers Conservation
Authors: Maxted, N.
Publisher: 2003

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