Study of priority species of wild relative species of cultivated plants.

In order to ensure the preservation of biodiversity, it is important not only to preserve genetic resources in natural habitats (in situ) in the gene bank and field collections.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Commission on Genetic Resources has recommended that countries draw up action plans to preserve crop wild relatives in situ. The same recommendation was made during the mid-term evaluation of the programme "Collection and preservation of genetic resources for agricultural crops for 2014-2020".  

The first stage of drawing up the action plan is the compilation of lists of species to be preserved.
The priority for the conservation of wild relative species of cultivated plants depends on the endemicity, status, distribution, level of danger of the species, as well as the use and importance as food and feed plants in the production and plant breeding of cultivated plant species belonging to the same genus.

The project was filled out with a look at both food and feed crops, as well as the most common taste, medicinal and ornamental plants. The field work of the project for observing plant growth sites, analysing the information in the atlas of plant distribution and the first selection of species were carried out by the NGO Society for the Protection of Heritage Communities. Toomas Kukk, a member of the association, Külli Annamaa, head of the gene bank of the Estonian Plant Breeding Institute, and Rene Aavola, a grass breeder, participated in the preparation of the prioritised list.

During the first phase of the project, a consolidated list of wild relative species of cultivated plants was drawn up, in which species were taken in which at least one cultivated plant or potential cultivated plant is known to be grown in Estonia. There are 144 species on the consolidated list.
In the second phase, the development of an action plan for the preservation of which is of paramount importance was defined on the basis of the criteria for prioritisation (possible usability of the plant as a food or feed plant, economic importance, plant rarity and endangerment in Estonia) and species included in annex 1 to the International Agreement on Crop Genetic Resources.
88 species were selected from the consolidated list, which produced a prioritized listof Estonian native species of wild relatives of cultivated plants .

The compiled lists are the first stage in the preparation of the Estonian action plan for the conservation of wild relative species of cultivated plants. According to the concept drawn up by the European Cooperation Programme for Plant Genetic Resources ECPGR, a gap analysis method is applied to the preparation of a national strategy,
to find out the representation of species on the prioritised list in situ and ex situ in estonia.
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