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Banking on the future. Gene Conservation of Forest Trees Conference. Chicago, USA. May 16-19, 2016

14 June 2016

This conference was organised by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, the USDA Forest Service, Western Forestry and Conservation Association, Morton Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Garden, the American Public Gardens Association and BGCI. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together foresters and botanic garden professionals to discuss common interests in tree species conservation, and to explore the opportunities for working together applying interdisciplinary data, knowledge and skills. The focus was on the genetic conservation of tree species, especially those species at risk from stressors such as insects, diseases, drought, and development.  The workshop highlighted risk assessments that help to inform genetic conservation strategies as well as major actions taken by organizations for long-term conservation of tree genetic material.

The workshop comprised sessions on conservation strategies, pest and pathogen resistance, genetic conservation, red listing, innovative approaches for assessing and prioritising tree species and populations for gene conservation, tools for tree genetic conservation, conservation program case studies, seed collections, ex situ conservation and science in support of conservation. The meeting was concluded with breakout group workshops on in situ genetic conservation, ex situ genetic conservation and restoration of species and ecosystems.

This was an excellent meeting. It was superbly organised and the quality of the papers presented was very high. Most importantly of all, there was a genuine spirit of collegiality and a desire to learn from each other. Participants came away from the meeting not only wiser about how the other sector is tackling similar problems but also energised to work together where possible. A special issue in the journal New Forests will be associated with the meeting, presenting papers focusing on advances and trends in gene conservation of tree species. New Forests is an international journal on the biology, biotechnology, and management of afforestation and reforestation, published for a broad audience of scientists and practitioners published by Springer.

Read a review of the conference here

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