The need to maintain the genetic diversity of CWR is explicitly stated in global conventions and action plans such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the Global Plan of Action for PGRFA of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Member countries, such as Germany, are required to develop conservation strategies for wild and cultivated plant species that combine the advantages of in situ conservation in natural habitats with the advantages of ex situ conservation in genebanks. The German national program for plant genetic resources particularly identifies the need for the establishment of CWR genetic reserves as appropriate measure to improve the conservation status of CWR species, which are considered particularly important in Germany.
A genetic reserve is an area that is designated for active and permanent conservation measures, and in which management and monitoring of the genetic diversity of target CWR populations is carried out. In order to preserve the genetic diversity of a species, a varying number of reserves is necessary, which together should represent the diversity of a species as comprehensively as possible.
German Network of Genetic Reserves
The establishment of the “German Network of Genetic Reserves” in 2019 has provided for a framework in which existing and future CWR conservation measures will be integrated and coordinated. The national network is coordinated by the Information and Coordination Center for Biological Diversity at the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food. It consists of sub-networks for priority CWR, which are coordinated by specialist agencies. Sub-networks consist of genetic reserves for populations that are selected based on scientific criteria.