Wednesday 12th, 2011, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands

The Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), will organise a regional training workshop to support the preparation of contributions from Pacific countries to the State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources Report.

This workshop is being organised in direct response to recommendation 6 ii of the 2009 Pacific Heads of Forestry Meeting: 'that PICTs contribute and participate in the process of developing the "State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources Report" to be presented to the fourteenth session of the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 2013'. The workshop will be held at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi, Fiji Islands from 19 to 21 January 2011 and 20 participants from 13 countries are expected to attend the three-day meeting.

According to Mr Cenon Padolina, SPC's Regional Forest Genetic Resources Officer, genetic resources, including forest genetic resources, are among the most valuable assets that a country possesses. He added that, throughout the Pacific Islands, especially in the Melanesian countries, there is a need to improve forest genetic resources management to ensure a more sustainable use of these resources. 'Reforestation and tree planting programmes, using both indigenous and commercially valuable introduced tree species, need to be further encouraged and developed in the Pacific Islands,' he said.

The regional action plan developed at SPC - Forest and Tree Genetic Resource Conservation, Management and Sustainable Use in Pacific Island Countries and Territories [PICTs]: Priorities, Strategies and Actions, 2007-2015 - was formally endorsed by Pacific Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services and Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry at their combined regional meeting held in Apia, Samoa in September 2008.

The plan presently serves as a framework for planning and implementing the conservation, management and sustainable use of forest and tree genetic resources in the Pacific region.

'One of the major recommendations in the plan is the establishment of a regional tree seed centre. This is now being undertaken by SPC in order to facilitate the exchange of tree germplasm among PICTs,' Mr Padolina said.

Mr Padolina added that the main objectives of the training workshop are:
. to support Pacific Island countries' national focal points on forest genetic resources (FGR) in the preparation of their respective country reports for the State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources Report;
. to provide the opportunity for participants to discuss and exchange information on the importance of FGR and their current programmes on their conservation, management and use.

The idea of compiling this world report began in June 2007, at FAO's meeting of its Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA). The meeting acknowledged the urgency to conserve and sustainably utilise forest genetic resources and requested that a State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources Report be prepared and presented to the Commission in 2013. Two years later, at its March 2009 session, the FAO Committee on Forestry continued to discuss and support the preparation of the State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources Report, and urged member countries to collaborate with FAO and partner organisations to produce it.

It is envisaged that the report will be prepared through a country-driven approach: country reports and thematic studies with primary sources of data and information.