Crop wild relatives (CWR) are plant species which are more or less closely related to crops. They are a vital resource by providing a pool of genetic variation that can be used in breeding new and better adapted varieties of crops that are resistant to stress, disease, drought and other factors. They will be increasingly important in allowing crops to adapt to the impacts of climate, thus safeguarding future agricultural production. However, CWR themselves are vulnerable to changing climate.
Until recently, the main conservation strategy adopted for CWR has been ex situ - through the maintenance of samples as seed or vegetative material in various kinds of genebank or other facilities. Now the need to conserve CWR in their natural surroundings (in situ) is increasingly recognized. This allows their populations to continue evolving and generate new genetic variation that is adapted to changing conditions.
Hitherto, experience in conserving the wild relatives of crops in situtions has been very limited. Recent research co-ordinated by Bioversity International has produced a wealth of information on good practices and lessons learned for their effective conservation. This book captures the important practical experiences of countries participating in this work and describes them for the wider conservation community. It includes case studies and examples from Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan which are important centres of diversity for crop wild relatives, and covers four geographical regions - the Caucasus, South America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific Region. It provides practical, relevant information and guidance for the scaling-up of actions targeting CWR conservation around the world. This will contribute to the enhanced conservation and utilization of CWR and contribute options for improving food security and adaptation to climate change across a range of environments.