SAVE Network Partners in Switzerland


Foundation ProSpecieRara
(domestic breeds and useful plants)
Pfrundweg 14, CH-5000 Aarau


Switzerland is a country with a number of different regions, each with its own climatic conditions and topography. This is reflected in the great diversity of local varieties of cereals, fruit trees (particularly cherry), vegetable and forage crops. Conservation of PGR in Switzerland is carried out by both, public and private organizations. Some of the public organizations, such as the Federal research stations have been working actively on this topic for more than 90 years and private organizations started their activities 20 years ago.

This decentralised approach requires a coordinating body to oversee the activities. In 1991 Dr. G. Kleijer initiated the creation of a commission on plant genetic resources, the Swiss Commission for the Conservation of Cultivated Plants (CPC), which is supported financially by the Federal Office of Agriculture. Members are representatives of private and public organizations.

The principle aim of the CPC is to promote conservation of genetic diversity of cultivated plants. The main task of the secretariat is the coordination and information of the activities in crop genetic resources conservation at the national level. For this purpose the secretariat collaborates with all institutions involved in the conservation and utilization of cultivated plants. One of the first tasks of the CPC was to undertake an inventory of all organizations and institutes involved in describing species and the number of accessions conserved. These data were updated in 1996, revealing that 14 private and 13 public organizations are maintaining more than 19 000 accessions of 240 species.

Ex situ conservation is the main method of maintaining the collections through seed genebanks and field collections. Collecting activities and the establishment of genebanks have been initiated mainly in response to breeding programmes. Local varieties of cereals were first collected around 1900 by the Federal Research Station for Plant Production (RAC), Nyon.

Old and local varieties of fruit trees are maintained in orchards, arboreta and field collections. Conservation of fruit trees is undertaken mainly by private organizations, the Swiss Association for the Protection of Fruit Heritage (Fructus) and 'Pro Specie Rara'. Exhibitions demonstrating the rich genetic diversity of fruit trees are held regularly. These events are targeted at both the general public and at a governmental level, aiming at raising awareness of the importance of these conservations. Another initiative by the private organization Association for the safeguard of the Baroche is prompting in situ conservation of the landscape of Canton Jura, especially high prune trees. Farmers are encouraged to conserve old varieties in their orchards and to sell the fruits.'Pro Specie Rara' is undertaking on farm conservation by encouraging individuals to conserve landraces (particularly vegetables and cereals) in their gardens. Of the 100 wild species of aromatic and medicinal plants found in Switzerland, 25 are included on the national red list of endangered species. RAC has initiated a breeding program to study medicinal and aromatic species and to introduce them into mountainous regions where production of other crops is difficult. Accessions of these species are maintained in field collections or as seeds.

Swiss Commission for the Conservation of Cultivated Plants (CPC)
Domaine de Changins, Postfach 254, CH-1260 Nyon 1