The Role of the Committee

Within the WFCC alone there are over 600 member collections. Out with this membership there exists thousands of private, institutional or industrial culture collections many of whom are financially unstable or which lack support in a number of different ways. From time to time it is inevitable that some of these collections should have difficulties in terms of their long or even short term sustainability. It is purpose of the WFCC endangered culture collection committee to try to assist such collections in any way it can via its contacts and expertise.

Although rarely will any direct financial assistance be available from committee, members can assist those who are responsible for the curation or management of collections in various ways. Such assistance can take the form of simple advice or "political" intervention on your behalf e.g. lobbying your funding body or government department as a form of biological ombudsman.

If, on the other hand, you require advice on a more streamlined or cost effective maintenance of the collection in the wake of staff losses or additional training in some aspect of collection management; we can try to help or put you in contact with an appropriate person or persons who may be able to offer the required advice or assistance.

Similarly, if your collection requires to be relocated or is no longer supported by your parent organisation, or is in imminent danger of being discarded or abandoned, then we can try to find a suitable recipient who is able and willing to help look after either the key strains or the collection in its entirety.

Most importantly, the WFCC endangered culture collection committee acts as a first port of call for Curators and managers who are concerned about the sustainability of their collection.

It is part of the committees' remit to consider cases on an individual basis, in order to assess their degree of difficulty and to try to determine the most appropriate course of action. If collections are in imminent danger of being lost or their owners are voluntarily requesting relocation to another more stable collection, then a questionnaire has been designed to help assess the genetic resource "value" and relocation needs of that collection.

Realistically not all collections need to be or indeed can be saved, thus it is crucial that committee are in possession of as much information about the collection in question to help with the assessment process. Wherever possible, it would also be viewed by committee as desirable to secure the continued existence of the endangered collection either in situ or in the same host country.

Please do not feel embarrassed or pensive about asking for help or advice. That is what we are here for. Your enquiry will be treated with confidence and sensitivity.

Updated 20 June 2002