Multi Year Programme of Work (MYPOW) of the European Regional Focal Point (ERFP) for Animal Genetic Resources for the period 2010 – 2014
The European Regional Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources (ERFP) has a light organisational structure made up of the Assembly of National Coordinators (representatives from all European countries), Steering Committee and Secretariat. The activities are carried out based upon a Multi Year Programme of Work (MYPOW). The Secretariat and Steering Committee plan and execute the activities as decided upon by the Assembly. According to the ERFP Terms of Reference (see "Terms of Reference for the European Regional Focal Point and Programme on Animal Genetic Resources") the Working Groups, Task Forces and ad hoc actions are the most important tools to implement the activities. The Assembly discusses and adopts the MYPOW with prioritised areas and respective budget allocations for the Working Groups, Task Forces and ad hoc actions for the planned period. The previous manner of project funding by so-called “calls for action” will be replaced by the new Working Groups, Task Forces and ad hoc actions. After the 8th call for action the ERFP will hence not launch another call, but will commit to finance the ongoing projects until their completion.
The prioritised areas for the period 2010 – 2014 have been discussed at the annual meeting of the Assembly of National Coordinators in Crete in August 2010 and the following areas have been agreed:
Ex situ conservation (cryo-conservation) of animal genetic resources (Working Group)
In addition to the long-term storage of semen, which is a relatively simple and cheap operation for preserving genetic variation, embryos and tissue are also valuable for the storage of entire genotypes, in particular for local breeds at a critical stage of endangerment. There are differences between countries on how cryo-conservation schemes are organised, especially on how breeding associations and AI centres are involved. Furthermore, there is European and national (sanitary) legislation governing the collection and cryo-conservation of genetic material. In some species, major technological limitations exist , while in others, major advances have been made. The review of available technology and urgent needs of legislation could be done in collaboration across countries.
Documentation and information of animal genetic resources (Working Group)
Over the past number of years, a number of European institutions have developed a regional information system for animal genetic resources (EFABIS) as a contribution and gateway to transfer data from national information systems (national inventories) to the global information system, DAD-IS, at the FAO. While EFABIS has been developed by a number of collaborating project partners, and has funding in place until the end of 2010, there is a need to transfer the regional database and the supporting national inventories into a permanent information infrastructure for AnGR in Europe. Therefore a draft concept for the future of the EFABIS database is needed, so that the Assembly can decide on the future organisation and implementation of the database. National Focal Points in charge of the national inventories could be nominated by National Coordinators in such countries which have not yet done so. Representatives from the European Association of Animal Production (EAAP) and FAO will also be invited to participate.
Access and benefit sharing (ABS) of animal genetic resources (Task Force)
Current CBD discussions are expected to adopt an International Regime on ABS. This is likely to consist of a framework structure, which would require further elaboration for specific aspects of genetic resources, including Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR). In particular, the specific policies and measures which might best constitute components of a specific International Regime for AnGR, need further elaboration. Although the practices for animal genetic resources are very different, it is worth thinking about the political implications and possible benefits of common guidelines or recommendations or even a formalised agreement on AnGR.
Risk status and indicators of animal genetic resources (Task Force)
The risk status of AnGR, especially with regard to local breeds, is an essential basis on which to take informed decisions and initiate activities to support breeds at risk. There are several concepts and methodologies used to assess the risk status. Different indicators are in use by individual European countries, the FAO and the European Commission. A harmonisation of such concepts is needed if the risk status is to be comparable at country, regional and global level. The European SEBI indicators have been a starting point in this direction and will provide the basis for a continuation of European harmonisation activities. A draft concept should be developed and presented to the Assembly for its consideration, discussion and decision, with regard to further progress in this area.
Agri-environmental measures (support schemes for animal genetic resources) (Task Force)
European farmers of local breeds have benefited from economic support under EU agri-environmental measures for some time. For many breeds, these payment schemes have been effective in halting the decline of population numbers. Further actions in this area could be aimed at developing the self-sustainability of local breeds so that they could be maintained without the need for external economic support. In the development of strategies, a combination of production, multi-functional, market and non-market values, including eco-system services, should be a target towards achieving increased profitability within local breeds. By sharing experiences and knowledge, we can propose more effective and cost-efficient schemes towards sustainable use and conservation of local breeds. A new EU agri-environmental programme after 2013 should hopefully maintain the powerful support for local breeds with encouragement towards higher degrees of self-sustainability.