New partnerships and tools to enhance European capacities for in-situ conservation
Activities will help to build (a) network(s) of in situ (including on-farm and on-garden) conservation sites and stakeholders in order to develop new partnerships between the conservation, farming, gardening and breeding sectors and with the wider public. This will expand capacities to manage genetic resources in more dynamic and participatory ways and to support their use in breeding, farming and the food chain. Cooperation between conservation stakeholders will enhance knowledge of available resources, support the demonstration of in situ genetic resources to the wider public and improve access to this genetic reservoir. Exchanges with the breeding sector will provide openings to identify promising traits from landraces and CWRs and increase their use in breeding. Activities will also contribute to developing and showcasing strategies for in situ conservation and to linking ex situ and in situ conservation efforts more effectively. While targeting in particular European capacities, projects are encouraged to draw on good examples from elsewhere. The work is expected to benefit from the contribution of social sciences. Proposals should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction of this Work Programme part.]].
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
In situ (including on-farm) conservation is an important complement to ex situ conservation efforts and particularly relevant for tackling Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) and landraces. Unlike the more static conservation of genetic material in gene banks, in situ conservation is seen as a means of capturing the evolutionary adaptation of plants exposed to changing environmental and management conditions, thereby providing a reservoir of valuable traits for crop adaptation (including to climatic changes). To be effective, in situ conservation strategies require a complex multi-actor approach and need to be embedded into overall strategies to preserve plant genetic resources.
Activities will significantly strengthen European capacities for the conservation, management and use of in situ genetic resources. They will contribute to
- greater knowledge of the status and characteristics of in situ genetic resources in Europe
- establishing more durable partnerships between in situ conservation stakeholders and thus to more dynamic transfer of plant material and good practice on conservation and management issues
- the creation of a platform for national and European in-situ conservation strategies
- diminishing the divide between in situ and ex situ conservation efforts
- increased awareness of the wider public as regards the wealth and importance of genetic resources for agriculture and consumers
- increased use of genetic material from in situ sources in breeding activities and in the food chain
In the longer term outputs will support competitiveness of the farming and breeding sectors, trigger product innovation and foster healthy diets through provision of more diverse food.