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Only one in four of the most threatened trees are represented in ex situ collections

by Kirsty Shaw

The Global Trees Campaign aims to avoid all tree extinctions in the wild. An important component of conservation action must be ex situ conservation: securing a species outside of its natural range, as a back-up measure in case remaining wild populations are lost. Our new report, released today, highlights that only 74% of the most threatened trees are absent from ex situ collections, lacking this vital conservation action that could save them from extinction. 

These results are based on research work undertaken by BGCI. Our first step was to develop a list of threatened trees against which to measure progress. Doing this was no small task.

First, we collated Critically Endangered (CR) and Endangered (EN) assessments of known trees, for example from the IUCN Red List and BGCI tree red lists.

We also collated CR and EN assessments of plants, without recorded life form, for example from national plant red lists.

In addition, we developed a list of trees, with input from national tree lists and monographs, so relevant assessments could be extracted from the list of CR and EN plants. Our tree list also had a final manual check by the Global Tree Specialist Group and other experts.

This resulted in a list of CR and EN trees, to compare ex situ collection records against.

Alongside efforts to develop the list of threatened trees, botanic gardens, arboreta and associated seed banks were encouraged to upload their latest collection information to BGCI’s PlantSearch database: an online global portal of living plant collection lists.

So what do the results tell us?

  • 5,330 trees with conservation assessments are as considered CR or EN globally

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Friday, October 23, 2015