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The conservation and sustainable use of forests and forest genetic resources (FGR) is a challenging task for scientists and foresters. Forest management practices can affect diversity on various levels: genetic, species, and ecosystem. Understanding past natural disturbance dynamics and their level of dependence on human disturbances and management practices is essential for the conservation and management of FGR, especially in the light of climate change. In this review, forest management practices and their impact on genetic composition are reviewed, synthesized, and interpreted in the light of existing national and international forest monitoring schemes and concepts from various European projects. There is a clear need and mandate for forest genetic monitoring (FGM), while the requirements thereof lack complementarity with existing forest monitoring. Due to certain obstacles (e.g., the lack of unified FGM implementation procedures across the countries, high implementation costs, large number of indicators and verifiers for FGM proposed in the past), merging FGM with existing forest monitoring is complicated. Nevertheless, FGM is of paramount importance for forestry and the natural environment in the future, regardless of the presence or existence of other monitoring systems, as it provides information no other monitoring system can yield. FGM can provide information related to adaptive and neutral genetic diversity changes over time, on a species and/or on a population basis and can serve as an early warning system for the detection of potentially harmful changes of forest adaptability. In addition, FGM offers knowledge on the adaptive potential of forests under the changing environment, which is important for the long-term conservation of FGR.

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