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What are CWR and their values?

The wild relatives of crop plants (hereinafter CWR), which include the progenitors of crops as well as other species more or less closely related to them, constitute an increasingly important resource for improving agricultural production and for maintaining sustainable agro-ecosystems. They have contributed many useful genes to crop plants, and modern varieties of the most crops now contain genes from their wild relatives.

Why conserve CWRs?

The natural populations of many crop wild relatives are increasingly at risk. They are threatened by habitat loss through the destruction and degradation of natural environment or their conversion to other uses. Deforestation is leading to the loss of many populations of important wild relatives of fruit, nut, and industrial crops. Populations of wild relatives of cereal crops that occur in arid or semi-arid lands are being severely reduced by over grazing and resulting desertification. The growing industrialization of agriculture is drastically reducing the occurrence of crop wild relatives within the traditional agro-ecosystems. The wise conservation and use of crop wild relatives are essential elements for increasing food security, eliminating poverty, and maintaining the environment. Therefore, proper measures must be taken for protection and rational use of CWRs, taking into consideration the significance of CWR use in the field of economic development and the need for their protection in the field of nature protection.

Who we are and what we do?

"In-situ Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives Through Enhanced Information Management and Field Application" Project of Armenia (shortly CWR Project) is a project executed conjointly with IPGRI Rome and the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia. The foundational documents of CWR Project are Letter of Agreement signed annually between IPGRI Rome and the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia along with the trilateral memorandum, signed by IPGRI Rome, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia and UNDP Armenia.

Within the scope of the project the following activities are specified to be carried out

        - Creation of the National Informational System, which will contain comprehensive information on CWR distribution, use, threats, conservation actions etc... The creation of this system will render an opportunity to compile, digitalize and integrate the CWR information thereby making it available for all stakeholders and general public as a whole.

        - Development and implementation of the National CWR Conservation Action Plan. The mentioned Plan will specify the main trends of the national strategy in the scope of CWR conservation and sustainable use.

        - Organizing of monitoring, inventory, along with a number of surveys and other activities necessary for CWR conservation in the Protected Area: "Erebuni" Reserve.

        - Activities related to the public awareness, which will allow raising the country and global level of knowledge on the conservation status of crop wild relatives and assisting to the development of national planning capabilities for these species.

Why and where is CWR project being implemented?

The five countries (Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan) have mountain ecosystems of major importance as identified by GEF (Andes, Caucasus, foothills of Hindu-Kush and Pamirs, mountain chains on tropical islands), and they possess economically important and endangered CWRs in their mountain ecosystems. As noted in their National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans, they are all concerned to harmonize in-situ conservation of important crop wild species with sustainable use of their mountain ecosystems. All five countries located within centers of crop or plant diversity, propose to work together, and with international agencies to develop and implement rational, cost effective approaches to conserving their crop wild relatives. The project will also result in an international information system to support work by other countries on crop wild relative's conservation.


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