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Enhancing the conservation of crop wild relatives in Scotland

Fielder, Hannah, Smith, Cécile, Ford-Lloyd, Brian, Maxted, Nigel
Journal for nature conservation 2016 v.29 pp. 51-61
agricultural industry, biodiversity, climate change, crop yield, crops, ex situ conservation, food security, gene banks, gene pool, in situ conservation, international policy and programs, inventories, national parks, plant breeders, wild relatives, Scotland
The impact of climate change upon the agricultural industry is predicted to severely reduce crop yields, leading to a global state of food insecurity. This will be compounded by the necessity to feed almost two billion more people by 2050. Crop wild relatives (CWR), with a wider gene pool than domesticated crops, offer a means of mitigating this situation through the use of novel traits (e.g. stress tolerant or disease resistant traits) in crop improvement. The United Kingdom is one of the contracting parties to international policy such as the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which is committed to securing these valuable resources. However, as in the majority of countries around the world, there are as yet no commitments to either in situ or ex situ conservation of CWR at UK or devolved level. This study (i) has produced an inventory of 120 priority CWR within Scotland, (ii) has identified potential sites suitable for their in situ conservation (most notably a site to the west of Glasgow close to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park) and (iii) has prioritised these CWR in terms of the urgency for ex situ collection and storage in gene banks. Finally, recommendations have been made as to how active, long-term conservation of these 120 priority CWR in Scotland could be established to secure this resource in situ whilst ensuring accessibility of genetically diverse material in UK gene banks for use by plant breeders in crop improvement.