|SPC encourages conservation and sharing of forest genetic materials within the region|
|Monday, 19 September 2011 15:12|
Deforestation, degradation and loss of valuable forest and tree genetic resources are having negative impacts on the livelihoods and well-being of Pacific Island communities.
This has prompted a collaborative effort by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to collect and share germplasm of priority wood species.
This activity will be undertaken by the Pacific Islands Tree Seed Centre (PITSC).
The centre was established early this year within SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD) to act as a focal point to coordinate and implement collection, storage, distribution, research and training relating to germplasm of priority species.
Sairusi Bulai, Forestry Team Coordinator with LRD, acknowledged the presence of representatives of participating countries (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu) during his opening remarks at a regional meeting that is looking into strengthening capacities in tree seed technologies in Pacific Island countries and territories.
‘PITSC presents us with the opportunity to build capacity within our project countries by providing training that will enable the preservation and conservation of important species that are under threat.
‘PITSC cannot operate on its own, but needs support of all participating countries to move forward,’ Mr Bulai said.
He requested that the countries fast-track the development of a material transfer agreement (MTA) that will facilitate the collection and sharing of important species.
‘The MTA provides the legal framework for collection and sharing of forest genetic resources and the success of PITSC will only be realised with its adoption.’
The goal of the meeting is to develop a strategy and action plan for PITSC.
This strategy will aim to assist Pacific Island countries and territories to gain fair and equitable access to and benefit from sharing priority tree germplasm for sustainable development, rural livelihoods, conservation and climate change.
Bronwyn Clarke, Project Leader with CSIRO’s Australian Tree Seed Centre, said that the meeting would allow the participating countries to contribute to the development of the planned training activities, prioritise species for collection, and research and develop a three-year work plan for PITSC.
‘With effective conservation and utilisation, forest genetic diversity will be an effective tool to assist the region to meet the challenges of food and nutritional security and climate change,’ she said.
The two-day meeting that ends on 20 September is supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).