Sustainable forest management is based on the long-term adaptability of forest ecosystems and starts at the gene level. Forest genetic monitoring (FGM) is therefore a crucial component of any sustainable forest management as it gives a possibility to detect potentially harmful changes of forest adaptability before they are seen on higher levels. Forest genetic resources face a large number of increasing threats.

By introducing genetic monitoring into conservation programmes and sustainable forest management one has the tool in hand to assess information on relevant changes of a species and/ or populations’ adaptive and neutral genetic variation through time. Based on indicators and their verifiers it can serve as an early warning system to aid the assessment of a species response to environmental change at a longterm temporal scale.

Project Aims

The aims of LIFEGENMON project are:

  1. To define optimal indicators and verifiers for monitoring of genetic diversity changes in time across a transect from Bavaria to Greece for two selected target species, a stand forming broadleaf and a stand forming coniferous species.
  2. To prepare guidelines for forest genetic monitoring for these two and additional five forest trees species, which differ in their biology and distribution, for implementation of FGM at a national, regional and EU scale.
  3. To prepare a Manual for Forest Genetic Monitoring for implementation at the EU level.
  4. To prepare a Decision support system for an optimal choice of the level of forest genetic monitoring based on needs and means.
  5. To organize series of workshops/trainings for the forestry sector to be capable of implementing forest genetic monitoring according to standardized procedures in their territories.
  6. To prepare background professional documents/guidelines for policy makers at the national, regional and the EU level for supporting development of possible new regulations at the national level, the FOREST Europe process and future European Forestry and Biodiversity Conservation policies and strategies.
  7. To discuss and disseminate the forest genetic monitoring among different target audiences and stakeholders to promote the use and results of this early warning system as a tool for sustainable forest management.
  8. To establish a well functioning internationally linked team of forestry professionals working in and for forest genetic monitoring.
  9. Access to all informaton sources mentioned can be secured directly, through existing networks or beneficiaries directly.
Expected Results of LIFEGENMON

The expected results of LIFEGENMON are:

  1. Genetic monitoring regions delineated for 7 species/species complexes within the transect countries.
  2. Six genetic monitoring sites installed in three countries, two sites per country, one for Fagus sylvatica, one for Abies alba/Abies borisii-regis.
  3. Database for storing demographic & genetic data, including raw genetic data developed.
  4. Minimum and optimal number of indicators and verifiers defined for three monitoring levels.
  5. Cost estimation of genetic monitoring per species/level/indicator assessed as part of the Manual for forest genetic monitoring, common result of B1 and B2.
  6. Standardised protocols for collecting demographic & genetic data (midterm and updated in the end of the project).
  7. Species/species group specific guidelines and strategies for the European Forest Genetic Monitoring system established (7 guidelines).
  8. A written handbook entitled Manual for forest genetic monitoring published, containing practical advice on forest genetic monitoring including consequences for sustainable forest management.
  9. The Decision support system prepared.
  10. Report on background documents for support preparation of modifications of existing and proposals for new regulations at the national and at the European scale will be facilitated, streamlined and harmonized, based on the information and results generated by workshops involving stakeholders and policy makers.
  11. The achieved goals of the actions will provide a solid background for preparation of future strategies for application of Forest genetic monitoring to halt biodiversity loss at a Pan-European scale. Unified strategies will help to overcome methodological and political difficulties due to national initiatives (national specificities/characteristics).
  12. Results of genetic monitoring will directly lead to practical forest management actions by using the detailed Decision support system, including a „Policy and Procedures“ section. The long term development of range-wide conservation will be ensured by congruent European scale strategies for forest trees and by the implementation of a European wide Forest genetic monitoring system.
  13. Access to all information sources will be provided on the internet and/or in libraries. If appropriate existing monitoring plots and data shall be accessed via web-portals or data curators. If requested, data shall be tranferred to the European Forest Data Centre of the JRC of the EC, for public dissemination.