Parco Nazionale della Majella
EUFORGEN Coordinator, Bioversity International, via dei Tre Denari 472a, 00057 Maccarese, Fiumicino (RM), Italy
Forest restoration could play a crucial role in ensuring the ecological stability of very fragile ecosystems in the Mediterranean, where rural populations still depend on the environment. Many past restoration efforts did not achieve their expected impacts for a variety of reasons, this paper focuses on one of these: the lack of attention to the genetic diversity of forest reproductive material (FRM) initially used. This paper presents the main factors to be considered, namely (i) the genetic suitability of FRM to the site, (ii) the nature and size of the genetic pool used to supply FRM and (iii) the regeneration potential of the restored forest. In addition, it presents the rationale for a longer timeframe during which key decisions and practical activities in the restoration process take place as crucial for successful ecosystem restoration. The scale of restoration envisaged by many recent international targets would vastly increase the ecological and economic value of currently degraded lands. However, in order to be successful in creating adaptable, self-sustaining ecosystems, it is essential that forest restoration pays more attention to the genetic composition and provenance of the forest reproductive material used. In order to improve the likelihood of success, the paper concludes by presenting some key policy recommendations for the use of forest genetic resources in forest ecosystem restoration.
adaptive capacity, ecosystem restoration, forest reproductive material, FRM, forest restoration, genetic diversity, resilience, seed selection