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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.

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