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Trees for life in Oceania: conservation and utilisation of genetic diversity

 An aerial view of a large canarium tree on the land of subsistence farmers Julius and Felicitius in East New Britain Province of Papua New Guinea.

Forests and trees play a vital role in the economic, social, environmental and cultural lives of the peoples of Oceania. However, both biodiversity and the genetic diversity of individual species are under threat or already suffering from impacts of habitat loss, overharvesting and competition from invasive weeds. In addition, the islands of the south-western Pacific are considered among the most vulnerable regions of the world to climate change. Accordingly, enhancing the diversity, health and the extent of forests, agroforests and trees in Oceania is of paramount importance in ameliorating and mitigating the effects of climate change.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has been supporting research in South-East Asia and the Pacific islands on the growing, management, processing and marketing of indigenous and exotic tree species since the early 1990s. Especially important are those tree crops that are well adapted to the local, diverse conditions; are amenable to production by smallholders as well as larger operators; provide a range of services to local communities; and afford possibilities for high-value local processing.

This book, prepared with inputs from 85 specialists in the nominated subject areas, including many Pacific island foresters and horticulturists, aims to provide information on a selection of important Oceanian species. It highlights their valuable genetic diversity and provides recommendations for conserving and making best use of this diversity. This unique publication will guide sustainable utilisation of those species that are vital to the Pacific islands and elsewhere in the developing tropics. This book should be invaluable for those planning and funding research on tree species in the Asia–Pacific region. It will also help smallholders and larger landowners involved in reforestation and agroforestry, and government agencies and other organisations involved in conservation and domestication of tree and shrub species in Oceania.