Like other wild species, many CWRs are threatened by human induced processes such as climate change and habitat loss. Active measures are therefore needed to safeguard this valuable genetic resource.
The most important approach for preserving CWR species is in situ conservation, where the species is maintained in its natural environment. In this case the species can continue to adapt to environmental and climatic changes. In addition, there is a potential to maintain a large amount of variation and thereby future evolutionary potential. Furthermore, many species can be conserved at the same time in one location, making conservation efficient. Also ex situ conservation in gene banks has an important role for CWRs. A back-up sample can be conserved ex situ for the event that the in situ population will go extinct. The sample at the gene bank can then be used to re-introduce the population into the wild, or long-term conservation with regeneration can be initiated in the gene bank.
In many ways CWR conservation is similar to conservation of other wild species; however the aspect of use is different. Compared to other wild species, CWRs have an additional role in food production, or in some cases medicine, forestry, energy production etc. To be able to realise this role, the CWRs need to be easily accessible to the stakeholders using this resource, for example to improve agricultural production.