Protecting forest genetic diversity, a common purpose

Written by Silvio Oggioni

In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike -Paulo Coelho-

Forests are ecosystems full of life, probably the richest on the planet. They host trees, shrubs, grasses, mammals, birds, insects, fungi, in short hundreds of living species. And they are vast: just think that one third of the surface of Europe is covered by forests, and is constantly increasing, according to the State of Europe’s Forests Report of 2015.

Within forests there are thousands of trees, each one slightly different from its neighbour. Trees from different species are obviously different, but even among those belonging to the same species are unique individuals, just like you and me. Each tree is special: more or less resistant, more or less beautiful, with better fruits or more productive. Forest genetics studies the variability of intrinsic traits in a species or individual that can be transmitted to the next generations, which is the very basis of diversity in the forest world. And it is this diversity that allows the dynamic equilibrium on which is based all life in the forests. Protecting genetic diversity of species and individuals is the basis for sustainable management of forest ecosystems. In Europe, more than 50% of woodlands are designated to protect water, soil and the ecosystems!