Invasive delicacy - Aremenian blackberries (Rubus armeniacus) can form impenetrable shrub stands, however, the berries are very sweet and tasty. Photo by Åsmund Asdal.
It could be blackberries or cloudberries. Or perhaps sea kale or field mustard. These plants are all examples of plants growing in the wild, but at the same time closely related, and of importance to, what we cultivate and eat.
“These plant species carry traits that might prove crucial for adapting our crops to coming challenges, such as climate change. It is of great importance to conserve the crop wild relatives and to make them available to the plant breeders who are developing new varieties adapted to future climates and needs, for example varieties adapted to new pests and diseases or drought. ”, says Anna Palmé, Senior Scientist at NordGen and responsible for our work with Crop Wild Relatives .
Today, several interested have gathered in Helsinki to learn more about this field of research. As Anna and the other lecturers speak, the audience consisting of state officials, researchers, environmentalists and other stakeholders. The seminar is arranged by LUKE, the Natural Resource Institute of Finland, in a Crop Wild Relatives-project funded by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
“It’s an important issue to address and we’re happy that the area is prioritized. Now we want to reach more people, telling them why the wild plant resources must be taken care of, and how it could be done efficiently”, Elina Kiviharju says.
Luke is coordinating the national genetic resources programme, and enhancing the conservation of the crop wild relatives in Finland is one of it’s tasks. The work is done together with the most relevant stakeholders: Helsinki University LUOMUS and Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife.
The seminar address different aspects of CWR conservation and Anna Palmé is there to describe the Nordic cooperation that has taken place during the last four years.
“We are much stronger when we work together in the Nordic region. By cooperating we can be more efficient when it comes to crop wild relative conservation, compared to if the work was to be done by each country separately”, she says.