The Global Strategy

To assist countries to respond to these imperatives for upgrading the management of animal genetic resources, a framework for a global strategy has been supported and is known as the Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources.

The framework of the Strategy consists of four fundamental components. The Strategy is designed to be comprehensive to emphasize the balanced approach required to understand, utilize, and maintain AnGR better and more cost-effectively over time. The four fundamental components of the Strategy are

1. A global, country-based structure comprising three elements:

a. Focal points and networks to assist countries design, implement, and maintain comprehensive national strategies for the management of their AnGR. The need has been clearly demonstrated to distribute the focal points to at least three levels — country, regional and global — although for effective policy and technical development subregional networks are also indicated for some regions.

b. Stakeholder involvement, which FAO will lead and coordinate. This element provides for a broad range of dimensions of involvement: geographical, AnGR management element, production environment, species, time, and funding level.

c. A virtual structure to enable collection and use of information, coordination, reporting, and to facilitate the spectrum of management processes. This virtual structure is known as the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) (Figure 1). It is being developed as an advanced communications and information system primarily for country use. Its security protocols enable countries to be responsible for validation of data and to determine what and when data are released to the world, emphasizing the country-based concept. DAD-IS also serves as the primary clearinghouse mechanism for this sector of biodiversity as required under the CBD.

2. A technical program of activity aimed at supporting effective management action at the country level, in harmony with the CBD, and comprising a set of six elements:

a. Characterization, encompassing demographic and environment, phenotypic, and genetic indicators and assessment;

b. In situ utilization and conservation;

c. Ex situ conservation;

d. Communication and information system development, including the development of DAD-IS and training;

e. Guidelines development and action planning; and f. Collaboration, coordination, and policy instrument development (Figure 2).

3. Cadres of experts to guide development of the Strategy and maximize its cost-effectiveness.

4. An intergovernmental mechanism for direct government involvement, policy development, and support. This is provided by the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) (Figure 2).

To take full advantage of the Strategy, countries are being invited by FAO to nominate an institution as a National Focal Point (NFP) and to identify a national technical coordinator (NC). The NC serves as the point of contact for the involvement of the country in the Strategy and will assist in organizing the essential in-country networking, facilitating, and coordinating activity. To ensure the country level has access to the necessary level of assistance and to best utilize the limited resources of the Global Focus, the planned coordination structure provides for decentralization to the regional level. Regional Focal Points (RFP) are to be implemented in each major genetic storehouse region of the world.

Figure 1 Structure of Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS).

The technical program of activity is structured to facilitate implementation and reporting and is being developed to align with the CBD (see Figure 2). Each technical element provides for a set of connected activities, for example,

1. Characterization. Indicators and assessment of AnGR are essential to mount a program of management. These are required at four levels:

a. Baseline surveys — national inventories of AnGR and of primary production environments form the essential starting points for the development of Action Plans, including the Early Warning System for AnGR.

b. Monitoring — review of the population status of particular AnGR at risk for effective and efficient conservation and as the ongoing basic need for Early Warning.

c. Comparative genetic evaluation — increased knowledge of the unique qualities of breeds under each production environment, as the basis for making best use of these resources in the short and longer term.

d. Genetic distancing — a comparative molecular description strategy is being developed to establish which breeds harbor significant unique genetic diversity, allowing better-targeted conservation actions and facilitating baseline surveying.

2. In situ utilization and conservation. These activities primarily involve the active breeding of animal populations such that genetic diversity is best utilized in the short term and maintained for the longer term. In situ operations include establishing

Figure 2 Primary intergovernmental and technical work elements of the Strategy and their relationship with the CBD, CSD, and Agenda 21.

breeding goals for sustainable production systems and performance recording and genetic development and dissemination of improved germplasm. In situ conservation covers the maintenance of live populations of animals in their natural environment for possible future use. Incentive systems will generally need to be developed to enable farmers to develop and reliably maintain such conservation activities.

3. Ex situ conservation. This activity includes cryogenic preservation and the maintenance of live animals in farm parks or zoos, beyond their development environment. The Strategy focuses on the use of live animals backed up by cryopreservation where technology exists, combining within-country genome banks with likely regionally distributed global genome repositories of last resort. For the latter in particular, policy development is required to assist countries to secure diversity associated with resources currently at high risk.

4. Guidelines and Action Plans. Cost-effective management of AnGR is complex technically and operationally. The Strategy provides assistance to countries through the development and provision of comprehensive guidelines for use as decision aids in the planning and implementation of national action strategies. These guidelines will form much of the detailing at the center of the Strategy; consequently, their rapid development and field testing will best assist countries. The Strategy will then be further developed by integrating all national action strategies.

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