Development of national crop wild relative conservation strategies in European countries

Juozas Labokas*, Nigel Maxted, Shelagh Kell, Joana Magos Brehm, José Maria Iriondo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


To generate European-wide information to contribute to the improvement of national and regional crop wild relative (CWR) conservation planning and the development of effective CWR conservation strategies, a questionnaire was sent to the members of the Wild Species Conservation in Genetic Reserves Working Group of the European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR) to collate information on progress in developing and implementing national CWR conservation strategies and action plans. Responses from 30 countries were analysed and literature sources were consulted to fill some information gaps. Results showed that 13 countries were in the preparation stage of their national strategies, i.e. having no drafts prepared yet, 14 in higher stages (from the first draft prepared to the published and approved ones), and three have not yet started the planning process. Twelve countries included all categories of species autochthony (i.e., native, archaeophyte and neophyte) in their priority CWR lists. Wild relatives of human and animal food crops were selected as the highest priorities by 23 and 22 countries, respectively. Relative level of threat was identified as the most important prioritization criterion by 23 countries. Italy reported the highest number of CWR in its national checklist (10,779 taxa) and priority list (1118 taxa), whereas Ireland reported the lowest number of CWR in its checklist (171 taxa) and Portugal reported the lowest number in its priority list (20 taxa). Regarding the percentages of prioritized CWR, the strictest approach was applied in Portugal—only 20 out of 2262 CWR taxa, or < 1%, were selected as priorities for conservation action, whereas in Spain 578 out of 929 CWR taxa, or about 62% were prioritized. Eleven countries have proposed the establishment of genetic reserves, from one per country (Israel) to an extended network (Germany and the Netherlands). Only the UK had a formally established genetic reserve. The highest number of priority CWR taxa that occur in existing protected areas was reported by Spain—472 species, or 82% of the national priority list, whereas the lowest number—14 species, or 70% of the national priority list—in Portugal. Israel reported the highest number of priority CWR taxa (319 or 98%) conserved in gene banks. Among the limitations in the development of national CWR strategies highlighted by countries, was the lack of an EU agency responsible for genetic resources. The development of CWR conservation strategies is mostly within the domains of agriculture (13 countries) and environment (12 countries), although both domains are involved in eight countries. The most successful results in the development and implementation of CWR conservations strategies are achieved in the countries where multiple stakeholders, including ministries, research institutions, NGOs, local communities, protected area authorities and national PGR committees are involved. Some discussion and conclusions regarding further developments are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1385-1403
Number of pages19
JournalGenetic Resources and Crop Evolution
Issue number5
Early online date6 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Conservation actions
  • Conservation planning
  • Crop wild relatives
  • Genetic reserves
  • Prioritisation criteria and methods
  • Protected areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Development of national crop wild relative conservation strategies in European countries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this