Conservation of trees often takes into account the large number of genera, long generation intervals, large growth forms, generally outbreeding reproductive systems and species-specific regeneration requirements. This requires decentralized and complementary conservation methods such as seed genebanks, live ex situ field genebanks, conservation circa situ (in farmland around natural forest where species are or were once found) and in situ (in the wild).
Economically important tree species with recalcitrant and desiccation sensitive seed or those clonally propagated to maintain genetic integrity are maintained as living field collections. These field genebanks serve a dual role of conservation and as sources of germplasm for clonal material or seeds. ICRAF collaborates with national partners in 16 countries spread across all the six ICRAF regions to establish and manage field genebanks of agroforestry species. In addition to conservation, ICRAF field genebanks also act as research sites for species evaluation, characterization and for seed multiplication. Within the East and Southern Africa region, ICRAF maintains field genebanks in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe; Peru in Latin America; China in East and Central Asia; Vietnam in South East Asia; India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in South Asia; and Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Niger and Senegal in West and Central Africa. Currently, the living collection comprises a total of 60 genetically diverse fruit, medicinal, and multipurpose tree and shrub species. These are either wild unimproved material or landraces mainly of indigenous species, or developed cultivars of fruit species.