The project SAFENUT: ‘Safeguard of almond and hazelnut genetic resources from traditional uses to modern agro-industrial opportunities’ has been elaborated within the Council Regulation (EC) N. 870/2004 AGRI GEN RES which established a Community programme on the conservation, characterisation and utilization of genetic resources in agriculture. The project represents a resourceful strategy for re-organizing and sharing, in a more efficient manner, the genetic resources by upgrading the knowledge on their value and uses. One of the main objectives of the project is the centralization of available hazelnut germplasm by harmonizing the standard descriptors for a common characterization of cultivars. SAFENUT could represent an important step towards the characterization, documentation and management of Corylus avellana genetic resources in the Mediterranean Basin by addressing genetic resources collected in typical areas of cultivation, as well as less known local varieties or underutilized genotypes present in marginal areas. Among its objectives is the creation of a core collection and gene banks. The final goal is to set up a European virtual inventory linked with other important databases in order to share and spread all the information that will also be used to promote a wider application of traditional knowledge and agricultural practices, as well as to raise stakeholder awareness on the values of biodiversity components from the biological, economic and socio-cultural perspective. The project benefits from the participation of 11 partners from six European Countries, including the ONG Lega Ambiente and a Farmers’ Association. The present work summarizes the main actions and the first-year-results which focused on the centralization and harmonization of hazelnut germplasm with the definition of specific morphological descriptors. A survey was performed in different areas of traditional cultivation and novel ecotypes were pre-selected. In the framework of the biochemical evaluation, 60 varieties were analysed for oil, tocopherol, phenolic and mineral content of the kernel. These results showed great health benefits and technological interest in defining the use of nuts. SSR markers were performed to avoid synonymous and homonymous. With regard to traditional knowledge, a review of the existing hazelnut exhibitions was carried out and questionnaires were designed with the aim of recovering historical memories from students and to compare agricultural techniques and the importance of crops in the landscape among the partner countries
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