Skip to main content

The Latin American Forest Genetic Resources Network (LAFORGEN) contributes to developing effective mechanisms for the conservation and sustainable use of Forest Genetic Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Forest genetic resources are essential for communities who rely on timber and certain non-timber products for a substantial part of their livelihoods (for example fruits, gums and resins) for food security, domestic use and income generation.
These resources are also the basis for large-scale production to meet world-wide needs for these products.

Why LAFORGEN was created

Bioversity International and the Centro de Investigación Forestal of the Instituto Nacional de España para la Agricultura y Tecnología de los Alimentos (CIFOR-INIA) work together towards the conservation and use of forest biodiversity in Latin America. As part of this collaborative effort, supported by funds from INIA, LAFORGEN was created to link experts from different research institutes in Latin America who work in the field of forest genetic resources. Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest proportion of natural forests of all regions worldwide (22%).

Of great concern, however, is that more than a third of the global deforestation recorded between 2000 and 2005 took place in this particular region. The remaining natural forests and the genetic diversity of tree species native to these forests are under pressure from threats, such as agricultural conversion and selective extraction of timber. They are likely to become even more vulnerable to new threats like climate change. LAFORGEN's aim is to streamline the focus on the conservation and sustainable use of resources through research projects based on areas of common interest.

Mission and objectives

The network objectives are: to catalyze, support and implement priority actions related to conservation and use of FGR in Latin America, through enhanced collaboration among countries. to support and stimulate the exchange of information and experiences among scientists and professionals involved in the field of FGR. to stimulate circulation of technical and scientific information related to the topics covered by the network. to stimulate initiatives in conservation by formulating projects that involve local communities in the domestication of native forest species. to identify topics and donors for specific projects of regional interest, and develop concept notes and research proposals. to execute and stimulate capacity building on the network-related topics. to assist in forming working groups along specific themes.

Areas of investigation

LAFORGEN has three main areas of activity:

Research: Collaborative research proposals developed by LAFORGEN members address the main regional research needs in the conservation and use of forest genetic resources including:

  • strategies for the conservation of genetic diversity of tree species native to Latin America
  • impact of forest use on forest genetic resources domestication and breeding
  • germplasm storage, supply and exchange systems
    • technical and political issues

LAFORGEN's research activities on the conservation of genetic diversity are currently focused within MAPFORGEN, a project supported by funds from INIA, Spain.

Capacity building: Courses and preparation of training materials for young scientists and professionals in subjects relevant to the network mission and objectives.

Public awareness: Workshops, events and publications to raise awareness of stakeholders of subjects relevant to the network mission and objectives

Steering committee

LAFORGEN is made up of a community of approximately 120 experts on forest genetic resources from more than 20 countries. These are mostly, but not exclusively, from Latin America and the Caribbean. Membership is growing and the network has gained formal support from 23 institutions involved.  

The steering committee members are:

  • Dr Leonardo Gallo, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) Argentina
  • Dr Carlos Navarro, Instituto de Investigaciones y Servicios Forestales (INISEFOR) Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica.
  • Dr Nahum Sánchez, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (UMSNH) Mexico.
  • Dr Paolo Kageyama, Universidad de San Paolo, ESALQ, Piracicaba, Brasil
  • Jesús Salcedo, Bioversity International, Regional office for the Americas, Colombia.

Related news

Why climate change means a rethink of coffee and cocoa production systems

New research by an international group of scientists, from Inland Norway University, Bioversity International, Wageningen University and the World...

Read more

New Index outlines agrobiodiversity’s role in food system sustainability

The Agrobiodiversity Index is an innovative tool to calculate how well countries are conserving and using their agricultural biodiversity. The first...

Read more

Hedge your bets in resilient landscape restoration

Bioversity International launched the 'Trees for Seeds: Resilient forest restoration' initiative at the Global Landscapes Forum one month ago in...

Read more

Drying the rinds of Garcinia indica, a non-timber forest product prized in the pharmaceutical industry for its weight loss properties. Credit: Bioversity International/E. Hermanowicz

Sustainably managing non-timber products to improve livelihoods, equity and forests

New Guidelines for Equitable and Sustainable Non-timber Forest Product Management offer field-tested strategies and good practices on how to pursue...

Read more

Women prepare lunch in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Credit: CIFOR/Augusta

Understanding gender norms and innovation processes to foster gender-equitable opportunities in forest landscapes

Gender researchers present findings from Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan that shed light on how gender norms shape, and are influenced by, forest and...

Read more

News from Central and South America:

Mainstreaming biodiversity for nutrition in Brazil

Daniela Moura de Oliveira Beltrame, National Project Coordinator, Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition, explains why Brazil is putting diverse native...

Read more

Jonathan Steinke receives the Hans H Rutherford Fiat Panis award at Tropentag 2016. Credit: Tropentag

Fiat panis award for thesis research on citizen science for climate change adaptation in Honduras

During Tropentag 2016 held in Vienna, Jonathan Steinke from Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, received the fiat panis Hans H Ruthenberg graduate...

Read more

Course participants learned about a new methodology – called ‘tricot’ as an abbreviation from ‘triadic comparisons of technologies’ – that allows to efficiently test new technologies involving farmers as citizen scientists.
Credit: Bioversity International/J. van Etten

Central American professionals learn about farmer citizen science for climate adaptation

79 professionals from NGOs, farmer organizations and research institutes in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala learned about an exciting methodology...

Read more

Banana plantation worker in Colombia. Credit: CIAT/N. Palmer

Crank it up! Researchers discover that banana plants enjoy thermotherapy

Bioversity International and other CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas scientists have discovered several thermotherapy-related...

Read more

From dish to podium – it’s about a lot more than just sports in Rio

Brazil is not only home to the world’s best beach volleyball team but also the planet’s greatest plant biodiversity, representing around 15 to 20% of...

Read more

Multi-functional landscape in Turrialba, Costa Rica. A hydropower dam manages water flows and electricity. A mix of farmland and forest can also be observed.  Credit: Bioversity International/C.Zanzanaini

Partnering with Costa Rica to help farmers face climate change

Bioversity International partners with Costa Rica to find new approaches to agriculture that take into account the variables of a changing climate.

Read more

Cooperation and competition to conserve native diversity in Peru

As part of an incentive scheme in Peru to conserve quinoa biodiversity, farming communities received rewards, such as mattresses and spades, for...

Read more

La cooperación y la competencia para conservar la diversidad nativa en Perú

Como parte de un esquema de incentivos para conservar la biodiversidad de quinua en el Perú, comunidades agrícolas recibieron recompensas, como palas...

Read more

Pupunha bunches (Bactris gasipaes)

Putting biodiversity back on the menu in Brazil

New Ordinance signed on Sociobiodiversity will help to increase knowledge and promote sustainable use of native biodiversity

Read more

Quinoa varieties conserved by Doña Adeleiva Castillo , a custodian farmer.  She conserves 120 varieties of quinoa on her farm in the Peruvian Andes in memory of her son who died tragically in a motorcycle accident. Please credit:  Bioversity International/A. Camacho

Q is for quinoa: going with the diversity grain

Bioversity International scientists Adam Drucker and Marleni Ramirez highlight in the Economist the importance of going with the diversity grain when...

Read more