More involvement of youth in local fruit tree conservation

Photo credit: Bioversity

Uzbek farmers get a livelihood boost from local fruit tree conservation

When asked about how to improve peoples’ livelihoods, do you immediately think of agriculture and picture of a farm?

Think again. Almost one and half billion people directly depend on forests and trees, including fruit and nut tree products, for a portion of their livelihoods. As presented in The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources published last year, thousands of tree species are instrumental to global diets, health, shelter, fuel and incomes of the world’s poor.

Central Asian countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are centres of origin for and particularly rich in temperate fruit and nut tree species with global commercial and nutritional importance. Uzbekistan alone is home to 83 traditional varieties of apricot, 43 of grape, 40 of apple and 30 of walnut!

These trees can be said to represent a ‘living genebank’ which houses genes that allow certain species or varieties to withstand climate change and can be used to breed varieties with desirable traits for humankind. Yet, this native genetic diversity of fruit tree species has greatly suffered due to deforestation, industrialization, logging and overgrazing. Losing of the valuable genes described above would mean further loss of biodiversity, degradation of natural habitats and continued delivery of ecosystem services.

Read the full article: Bioversity

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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