Biodiversity is on the decline worldwide. Ecosystems are under pressure, species are becoming extinct and genetic diversity is decreasing, even within species. Future-proof agriculture and forestry requires a diversity of species and varieties, which is why the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN) conserves the variation in crops, farmed animals and trees in freezers and stimulates greater diversity in field and farm. In doing so, we simultaneously preserve our shared bio-cultural heritage.
CGN manages collections of (vegetable) crops, farmed animals, trees and shrubs. In doing so it supports the development of better varieties and helps maintain genetic diversity in the field.
Our goal is to achieve maximum genetic variation in our collections. The material is available for research as well as plant and animal breeding.
The crop collection consists of over 23,000 seed samples from 30 different crops. The lettuce collection alone totals 2,500 different samples, from modern varieties to those that grow in the wild. In recent years, CGN expanded its vegetable collection with melon, lamb’s lettuce, salsify and carrot. We are constantly increasing diversity via collection missions abroad and adding new varieties.
Farmed animal collection
The farmed animal collection comprises over 300,000 insemination doses of cattle, pig, horse, sheep, goat, dog, duck, goose, chicken and rabbit, and includes both commercial and rare breeds. The cattle collection contains the largest amount of samples. Rare breed societies use sperm from the genebank to conserve genetic diversity.
Tree and shrub collection
The tree and shrub collection consists of over 5,000 samples from some 50 species that grow in the Netherlands. This ‘field genebank’ is managed in partnership with Staatsbosbeheer, the Dutch government organisation for forestry and the management of nature reserves, and used by forest managers who wish to plant indigenous Dutch plant material.
CGN is ISO certified in accordance with NEN-EN-ISO9001:2015.
The quality system is a management tool to safeguard and constantly improve the quality of our work. It increases efficiency as well as the quality and reliability of products and services for customers, clients and financers. The CGN quality system provides insight into the critical processes within our organisation, divided into procedures, protocols and guidelines. It also includes a client satisfaction survey as part of the annual management evaluation.
Cooperation between genebanks in Europe may help implement or improve quality systems. CGN is willing to support the introduction of quality systems in other genebanks.
Contact our director Sipke Joost Hiemstra (contact listed on this page) for more information.
In working for the Dutch government, CGN does more than just conserve the diversity of crops, farmed animals and trees. We partner with social organisations, private parties and international networks, and Dutch plant and animal breeding companies help us maintain, describe and research the collections while sponsoring our collection missions.