Genetic diversity of forests to be monitored

Ljubljana, 6 June - Six partners from Slovenia, Germany and Greece have developed a forest genetic monitoring project to better monitor how forests could be affected by climate change.

This early warning system will help assess and predict a long-term response of various species to climate change, the Slovenian Environment Ministry said in a release.

It explained that forest genetic monitoring made it possible to detect potentially harmful changes in forests before they could be seen with the human eye.

Adapting forests to future climate change is based on preserving their biotic diversity at all levels, including genetic diversity, which is key to sustainable forest management.

The project will thus also serve as a support system for decision-making in forest management, according to the ministry.

It was developed as part of Lifegenmon, a project which promotes trees' ability to adapt to climate change with genetic monitoring.

The EUR 5.48m project is co-funded by the European financial instrument Life and the Slovenian Environment Ministry.

It was launched in July 2014 and runs until June 2020, and is coordinated by the Slovenian Forestry Institute.

Lifegenmon covers an area which is rich in biodiversity extending from Germany's Bavaria via Slovenia to Greece, crossing Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania.

The area is largely covered by beech, spruce and mixed forests, so beech and spruce were chosen to monitor genetic diversity.

The project also features a number of awareness-raising campaigns ranging from training, workshops, books and computers games.