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Access and rights to forest genetic resources in the Nordic region

Current situation and future perspectives

image of Access and rights to forest genetic resources in the Nordic region

Continued flexible exchange of forest genetic resources (FGR) in the Nordic region is important for sustainable forest management and for climate change adaptation and mitigation. For this reason, a high level political initiative identified a need to clarify the legal status of FGR in the Nordic region. In this report we summarise the results of a Nordic project intended to approach this issue, on the background that plant genetic resources is being increasingly subjected to private property rights. The aim of this work is to give recommendations for politicians and decision makers.

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Summary

Continued flexible exchange of forest genetic resources (FGR) in the Nordic region is important for sustainable forest management and for climate change adaptation and mitigation. For this reason, a high level political initiative identified a need to clarify the legal status of FGR in the Nordic region. The overall aim of this study was to assess whether it is necessary and possible to take legal steps to ensure that FGR remain available for conservation and sustainable use in and between the Nordic countries. A survey of the present situation revealed that although the Nordic countries have different domestic legislation on access to FGR, it has not caused any hinders for exchange. Thus, in effect the situation is quite similar in the Nordic countries. As for the future, it is unlikely that application of patent law and plant variety protection (UPOV) will restrict exchange of FGR, mainly due to the short protection periods of these regulations relative to the long generation time of main forestry tree species. For short rotation tree species, intellectual property rights (IPR) might prove to be more applicable. Concerning international agreements, it is premature to evaluate the effect of the Nagoya Protocol (2010) on access and benefit sharing for FGR, as well as recent FAO initiatives. Based on the current study, no legal steps or action seem necessary. To promote continuing simple exchange of FGR the Nordic countries are recommended to stay involved in those processes where relevant international agreements are debated and developed, facilitate simple procedures for exchange and establish a mechanism for surveillance of biotechnological methods that might increase the use of private property rights on FGR.

English

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