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1. Trees are the foundation species of the forest

Genetic diversity of trees is important to entire forest ecosystems – trees are ‘foundation species’, they play a key structural role in the ecosystems that none of the other species can fill – you can’t have a forest ecosystem without trees.

Research results over the past decade show that species diversity of a forest ecosystem depends on the genetic diversity of the key species (Whitham and others 2006). This means that as genetic diversity of the main tree species is lost, other species, for example insects and fungi, that are specifically associated with trees that have a particular genetic makeup may disappear too, leaving the whole forest ecosystem biologically impoverished.

Forest scientists at Bioversity International study how to conserve and manage the genetic diversity of trees — the foundation and backbone of any forest.

Learn about their work

Genetic diversity of forest trees is important for many reasons. Here are some little known facts that illustrate the importance of tree genetic diversity.