Global change is seriously affecting all of Earth’s biomes. Forest ecosystems and people dependent on their goods and services are at risk. Preserving Forest Genetic Resources (FGR) is crucial for forest ecosystems and people’s well-being. Marginal/Peripheral (MaP) populations, i.e. from the edge of distribution areas, are particularly important for adapting forests to global changes. In Europe, all major biomes contain MaP populations. Surviving well under unsuitable ecological conditions, they might contain unusual adaptations and constitute valuable FGR for expanding as well as retreating European and non-European forests.
Many species worldwide are moving to higher latitudes and elevations in response to climate change. The limit of species ranges remains understudied and the need for long term conservation of genetic diversity of these populations is underestimated.
MaP populations generally encounter more extreme biotic and abiotic conditions than those at the centre of the distribution and have therefore had to adapt to these conditions. However, the speed of the current climate change will greatly exceed that of the past climate changes as well as the migration potential of forest trees.
Southern European forests represent “hot spots” of genetic diversity. In view of the expansion of southern-Europe-like climate conditions to large portions of Europe by the end of the 21st century, FGR of southern edge MaP populations are particularly important for the future of European and non-European forests.
Mission of the Action
COST Action FP1202 is an opportunity to:
- Contribute to reducing the fragmentation in European research on MaP FGR
- Increase knowledge and identify gaps for future research on genetic diversity and adaptation to climate change
- Highlight the importance of southern MaP FGR for countries further north under climate change conditions, because they are often adapted to warm and dry climates, which are expected to extend to north in the near futur
- Provide researchers across Europe with the opportunity to observe forests undergoing climate stress, with a view to understanding processes likely to affect forests more widely in the future
- Support countries to establish or to improve their strategies of adaptation and mitigation
- Integrate skills, knowledge and tools in order to develop efficient and common strategies to preserve FGR
- Develop clear and readily applicable guidelines and tools for forest managers and decision makers
- Enhance the collaboration/cooperation among countries in the field of MaP FGR which is of mutual interest in the context of global change.
Fostering a dialogue among scientists from different disciplines will provide new insights on the adaptation of MaP FGR to the effects of climate change.
The results of this dialogue are the basis for providing guidelines and recommendations at different levels (forest management plans, national forest plans and strategies for adaptation to climate change, regional strategies or initiatives relevant to forests and climate change adaptation).