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Banking on the future: progress, challenges and opportunities for the genetic conservation of forest trees

Genetic diversity provides the essential basis for the adaptation and resilience of tree species to environmental stress and change. The genetic conservation of tree species is an urgent global necessity as forest conversion and fragmentation continue apace, damaging insects and pathogens are transported between continents, and climate change alters local habitat suitability. Effective and efficient genetic conservation of tree species presents a substantial challenge because of the lack of basic information about many species, inadequate resources, and a historical lack of coordination within and between conservation sectors. Several cooperative efforts are already under way and are achieving conservation success, but much work remains. The Gene Conservation of Tree Species— Banking on the Future workshop in 2016 enabled the exchange of information and the creation of collaborations among tree conservation stakeholders. Several key themes emerged during the meeting’s presentations and dialogue, which are further explored in this paper.