Resolution of the 1st International Conference on Conservation of Forest Genetic Resources in Siberia (July 30 - August 4, 2007, Barnaul, Russia)

Eighty-seven participants from Belorussia, Bulgaria, Italy, Russia, Slovakia and USA, including official representatives of international forest research organizations IUFRO and Bioversity took part in the meeting. Seventy-one reports have been made in five sections:
1. Memory of outstanding forest geneticists and breeders.
2. Study and conservation of forest genetic resources using traditional methods.
3. Study and conservation of forest genetic resources using molecular genetic methods and biotechnology.
4. Genetic basis of forest breeding and tree improvement.
5. Breeding programs in Siberia.

The significance of the meeting is stipulated by the important biospheric role that Siberian forests play in global climate regulation, by great importance of current breeding programs in the conservation and study of the genetic potential of conifer populations in Siberia, by insufficient study of genetic population structure of forest tree species in the Siberian boreal forests, as well as by the need for a synthesis of traditional and newest molecular genetic approaches for intensification of forest tree improvement.

The reports and discussions demonstrated that a large work on the study and conservation of forest genetic resources has been conducted in Siberia by the efforts of Russian and foreign scientists. Research of spatial population structure, genetic differentiation, and introgressive hybridization of forest-forming conifers (Pinus, Larix, Picea, and Abies) has been continued. Information on geographic variability and inheritability of adaptive and economically valuable traits in Pinus sylvestris, P. sibirica Du Tour, and Larix sp. has been summarized. New approaches to conservation of gene pool during forest restoration have been developed. The prospects of applying molecular genetic methods and biotechnology to the purposes of conservation, sustainable forest management and rational use of the boreal forest have been discussed.

At the same time, a number of negative processes have been revealed that lead to erosion of the gene pool of the main forest tree species and impede conservation of forest genetic resources in the Asian part of Russia by blocking the implementation of international conventional resolutions on biodiversity and reduction of CO2 emission. Among those negative processes there are:
1. Massive loss of valuable natural and experimental populations.
2. Impoverishment of genetic variation in the population of main forest tree species due to thinning that has often turned into selective cutting (?high-grading).
3. Discontinued creation of experimental populations and designated forest genetic reserves.
4. Unreasonably low level of funding of the majority of seed selection and production centers and research organizations.
5. Insufficient coordination of genetic studies, breeding programs, seed production, and introduction of woody plants.
6. A drastic decrease in the number of thematic conferences, workshops and methodological seminars.

On behalf of all the participants of the conference, a decision was made to address the Russian government, forest management agencies and State Duma with the following suggestions to eliminate the abovementioned inadequacies:
1. Provide development and wide discussion of a new version of a national federal program on the study, conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources in Russia, considering the current international documents and scientific achievements in biodiversity conservation, and get this new program approved at the level of the government of the Russian Federation.
2. Allocate funds necessary for the fulfillment of that program by a special government resolution.
3. Establish an independent executive committee of the leading Russian and foreign experts to control the execution of the project and distribution of funds on a competitive grant proposal basis.
4. Ensure legal protection of intellectual ownership of experimental populations and sites for the organizations and authors implementing conservation and tree improvement programs of the main forest-forming species in these populations and sites.
5. Expedite the approval of the ?Regulation on designation and conservation of the gene pool of the main forest-forming species in Russia, developed in the 1990s, and immediately give the status of especially protected territories to forest genetic reserves, plus stands, geographic cultures, and also to all other experimental sites of the main forest-forming species, and continue designation of forest genetic reserves.
6. Immediately restore the status of the only institute on forest genetics in the Russian Federation (RF) v the Research Institute of Forest Genetics and Breeding in Voronezh, and consider its additional subordination to Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), with the purpose of increasing research efficiency, according to the National program on Plant Genetic Resources of the RF; this is in accordance with the RF government-s instruction on the fulfillment of the fundamental programs of RAS ?Biodiversity and dynamics of gene pool and ?Bioresources of Russia: Fundamental basics of rational use.
7. Restore the Council on Forest Genetics, Selection, Seed Breeding, Production and Introduction by a special resolution, increase its role by including in its members both prominent Russian and foreign scientists; create its regional subcommittees (European part, Ural Mountain region, Siberia, Far East, etc.); and instruct the Council to control the fulfillment of the given resolution.
8. Revive the curatorship on forest breeding, seed selection and production with the purpose of scientific support of forest conservation programs and sustainable use of forest genetic resources in Russia.
9. Ensure regularity of special workshops, methodological seminars and conferences on the issues of forest genetics and breeding, including those for young scientists.
10. Create a united federal bank of data on experimental populations and sites in Russia.
11. Work out new rules of main and thinning cuttings with the purpose of integration of methods of conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources; increase the responsibility for violation of conservation genetic measures.
12. Organize wide scale research of the population structure of forest-forming species in Russia that would establish the basis for the gene conservation, seed zoning, genetic documentation and certification of experimental populations and sites.
13. Immediately start genetic certification of clones and families of plus trees at those sites, considering the important role that clonal archives and forest seed plantations play in the conservation of a valuable genetic diversity in the populations of the main forest-forming species.
14. Consider the long-term lease of the forests, preferably to those forest management enterprises that participate in forest genetic conservation programs. Provide the state support to regional forest management enterprises on the territories of which significant number of experimental populations and sites have been created. In particular, the participants of the meeting consider it expedient to give the status of a seed selection and production center to the regional enterprise ?Ozersky leshoz that is the leader in the seed selection and production of Scotts pine in Siberia and is widely involved in scientific research.

In addition, an appeal should also be made to foreign research organizations to support these suggestions in terms of controlling the fulfillment of international conventions on conservation of forest biodiversity and genetic resources. The participants of the meeting noted the necessity of the following actions of the international community of forest geneticists and breeders:
1. Consider it expedient to organize regular meetings on the study and conservation of forest genetic resources and conduct these meetings in Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg in the following years, respectively, taking into consideration biospheric importance of boreal forests and the extensiveness of experimental populations and sites in Siberia.
2. Ask the Bioversity International (formerly the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute), the world's largest international research organization dedicated solely to the conservation and use of agricultural and forest biodiversity, to conduct training workshops on forest conservation genetics for young scientists, including students and postgraduate students from Siberia, the Urals, and Far East, in one of the Siberian scientific centers (e.g., Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Sukachev Institute of Forest in Krasnoyarsk, etc.) that would promote the development of forest genetics and selection programs in the RF.
3. Form an initiative group for the organization of an International Center for Forest Conservation Genetics and Breeding in Siberia, the Urals and Far East, and create under its guidance a nongovernmental fund for the support of promising research programs and research groups in forest conservation genetics and sustainable use of forest genetic resources in these vast regions.
4. Facilitate exchange of information and recommend Russian forest geneticists and breeders to more actively place information on their research on Global Forest Information Service (GFIS) IUFRO site.

The participants express gratitude to the organizers and sponsors of the meeting v V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest and its West-Siberian Branch, Texas A&M University, Altai Forest Management, ?Altai Forest Lim., Ministry of Natural Resources of Altai Republic, Center for Forest Protection of Altai Krai, and also to Larichikhinsky, Ozersky, and Kulundinsky Forest Management Enterprisers of Altai Krai.

The present resolution has been unanimously supported by all participants of the meeting and sent to the President of RF V.V. Putin, Government and State Duma of RF, to the international ecological fund, and other international environmental protection organizations, and to mass media of the RF and other countries interested in conservation of forest genetic resources.