Biodiversity or biological diversity means the diverseness of life on Earth including the variety of habitats, species and also genetic variousness within a given species.
Agrobiodiversity means the diversity of genetic materials (genetic resources) used in agriculture including plant species and varieties cultivated for long in the Carpathian Basin, varieties, landraces and cultivars developed through plant breeding in Hungary and also crop wild relatives.
The protection of genetic resources – especially the preservation of the genetic reserves of cultivated plants and livestock – is a high priority national task all over the world regulated by international treaties setting specific commitments such as the Convention on Biological Diversity or the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Hungary is a contracting party of both treaties by law.
The legal predecessor of the European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR) was launched in 1980 based on the proposal of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Gene Bank Committee of the European Association for Research on Plant Breeding (EUCARPIA). Hungary was one of the founder countries of ECPGR which is a European cooperative programme aiming at to support the rational and efficient ex situ and in situ – national, subregional, and regional level – preservation of important plant genetic resources for food and agriculture besides increasing their further use and utilization. Several Hungarian gene bank experts and breeders take part in the work of the different crop workgroups and thematic workgroups dealing with plant genetic resources. Their work is also coordinated by the Plant Genetic Resources Institute of the National Centre for Biodiversity and Gene Conservation.
According to the objectives set in the Strategic Plan accepted in 2010 within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity Hungary developed the 2020 strategy for the preservation of plant genetic resources for food in 2013. The vision of the strategy is the following:
The long term preservation of the current diversity of Hungarian plant and microorganism genetic resources for food (our national treasures) without any genetic damages, revealing their real economic value as far as possible, spreading their sustainable use in their natural environment, and facilitating their utilization in research, educational and national breeding activities.
Besides, 14 specific objectives are also listed such as the continuous provision of European Union and national sources for the implementation of national gene preservation tasks or the search, collection and documentation of genetic resources located in Hungary.