Forest Genetic Resources

Genetic variation enables forests to adapt to future environmental and climate conditions. The main objective for genetic resource management of forest trees is to safeguard genetic variation in natural populations. It is also important to secure genetic resources for tree breeding, and specifically for the development of climate-adapted plants and plants with special usage properties.


The traits of plants and animals are determined by their heritage and environment. Inherited traits are determined by genes contained within their DNA.

- Genetic variation refers to the differences in DNA/genes between individuals and/or populations, and is a prerequisite for both evolution and the refinement and development of new varieties and breeds. Genetic variation is an important part of biological diversity.

- Genetic resources can be defined as biological materials with genetic variation or genetic traits that could be significant for development and targeted use. Seeds, plants, sperm, and animals are examples of genetic resources.

NIBIO's Norwegian Genetic Resource Center coordinates activities and actions regarding forest genetic resources in Norway.

Forest-related genetic resource work is combined within a national program managed by the Norwegian Genetic Resource Center, which allows us to monitor national objectives regarding the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources. The program is now in its fourth planning period. The program comprises all activities and actions implemented with the support of the Norwegian Genetic Resource Center and NIBIO, as well as projects and actions managed by other institutions. The action plan covers all species of forest trees native to Norway.

Globally, it is estimated that approximately 10 percent of all tree species are directly threatened by extinction, although most of these are tropical species and the situation in our part of the world is not as worrying. However, there are several factors that affect the genetic variation and adaptability of tree species. In Norway, climate change is likely to be the single factor with the biggest impact in the future.

Posters about Forest Trees 

The Norwegian Genetic Resource Center has published a series of posters about all of the forest trees native to Norway. Featuring text and illustrations, the posters offer information about the distribution, key characteristics, propagation, use and value of Norwegian trees, as well as explanations for associated terms and concepts, beliefs and superstitions.

Genetic Resources in Protected Forests

Using a database maintained by the Norwegian Genetic Resource Center, you can search for various protected areas in forest, and filter the results by forest tree species and location. You can also visit the allocated conservation areas for genetic resources around Norway, to see certain types of tree species.

Following Up on International Obligations

Managing genetic resources for forest trees is a priority in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' (FAO's) Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The first global status report entitled "State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources" was published in May 2014. This report, in conjunction with the "Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Forest Genetic Resources" (FAO, 2013), sets out the framework for international activities related to the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources. The Global plan of action covers 27 global, regional and national priorities and actions. National actions have to be implemented through national action plans in each country.