Swiss Commission for the Conservation of Cultivated Plants

Crop wild relatives conservation

Crop wild relatives (CWR) are defined as those wild species that are more or less closely related to crops and exchange genes with the latter. Therefore, CWR are an important part of the gene pool of crops. They also have a high potential for crop breeding as well as for their potential use as novel crops. Today, many CWR are endangered. An interdisciplinary working group evaluated the CWR topic for Switzerland. By using the international definition and methodology to define CWR, the CWR of Switzerland have been defined: 83% of the Swiss Flora are considered as CWR. An expert evaluation of the utilisation possibilities of CWR resulted in 143 priority CWR species. For these priority CWR, possible approaches to estimate the need of conservation and management action were identified. This as exemplified in three case studies on selected CWR species. The presented results are the first steps towards a national CWR strategy and for the implementation of the CWR topic in the national action plan for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. In addition, CWR are an important part of the national strategy for the conservation of Switzeralnd’s biodiversity.

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