In Situ Conservation Methods

Although ex situ conservation is the predominant method of conserving PGRFA, in situ conservation, which involves the conservation of ecosystems, habitats and the general interspecies diversity of wildlife therein, has recently become more focused on the conservation of intra-species diversity of PGRFA. Efforts have increased to maintain and use the diversity of PGRFA either in its natural habitat (especially wild relatives and forestry species) or in locations where the material has evolved, i.e., on farms or in home gardens. In these latter cases, farmers manage diversity and maintain it through use PGRFA in their production systems.

Because only a few countries have been involved in in situ conservation programs for PGRFA until now (see Table 6-1), a conceptual framework for in situ conservation of PGRFA is just emerging (see Fig. 6-1), Biosphere reserves,1 protected areas, and natural reserves are all conservation methods for the in situ conservation of wild plant (and animal) diversity. In some cases, however, the conservation of wild plant genetic resources has a positive impact on the maintenance of plant genetic resources of the wild relatives of crops (see Fig. 6-1).

1 Biosphere reserves are characterized as "... areas of terrestrial and coastal/marine ecosystems, where, through appropriate zoning patterns and management mechanisms, the conservation of ecosystems and their biodiversity is combined with the sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of local communities, including relevant research, monitoring, education and training activities" (Robertson, 1992).

Table 6-1. Countries reporting in situ conservation programs involving PGRFA
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