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REDD+ manual for botanic gardensby Sara Oldfield, Secretary General, Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
Botanic gardens around the world posses a range of skills and expertise that are relevant to the successful implementation of REDD+ projects. These include skills in forest monitoring and inventorying and in propagating and cultivating a wide range of forest tree species. In recognition of this, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) has researched and jointly publishing with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a manual on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) for botanic gardens. This new manual illustrates how botanic gardens may use their skills to contribute to the REDD process and more specifically to REDD+ projects. With reference to a series of ‘capacity gaps’ identified from a selection of REDD+ pilot projects, case studies from botanic gardens around the world highlight potential opportunities for botanic gardens to support the future implementation of REDD+ projects. The booklet also includes a series of recommendation and a REDD+ checklist for botanic gardens to support their future involvement in such projects.
The manual will be a useful resource to support BGCI’s work in Africa where we are working with a number of gardens to see how the skills they posses in the propagation of endangered, indigenous tree species can be deployed in the restoration of robust, diverse forests. Africa’s forests are essential stores of carbon – over 20 percent of the world’s terrestrial carbon is sequestered in the African tropical and sub-tropical area, in forests, wetlands and savannahs. Degradation, deforestation, over-exploitation, and agricultural expansion are steadily converting African forests into greenhouse gases. Indeed, six of the 21 countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions associated with deforestation and related land use are in Africa. The factors impacting on Africa’s forests are also impacting negatively on the valuable tree species that are of immense importance for local and national livelihoods.
For example, a number of Africa’s valuable hardwoods are included as threatened on the IUCN Red List. Information on globally threatened trees of Africa mainly derives from the 1998 publication of the World List of Threatened Trees and progress in Red Listing for trees has subsequently been limited. There is an urgent need to re-assess the status of African tree species. To this end, BGCI has initiated work on a Red List assessment of African ebony (Diospyros) species, of which there are around 90 species in mainland Africa. BGCI has also been working to support Red Listing in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, with a focus on medicinal plant species.
Determining which of the known endangered tree species are already in cultivation in botanic gardens is an important starting point for BGCI’s work. To date, we have identified over 30 of the tree species that are included in the IUCN Red List as globally threatened in botanic gardens in DRC, Kenya, and Uganda. These gardens are thus contributing significantly to the ex situ conservation of these species with both plant material and expertise currently or potentially available for their reintroduction to the wild. In addition they grow a wide range of other indigenous tree species that have potential for use in forest restoration and other forms of tree planting schemes.
In order to take on a wider role in forest restoration and to develop specific activities to grow indigenous tree species for carbon capture and storage projects, botanic gardens in Africa need to form or renew partnerships with forestry agencies, NGOs and the private sector. A regional stakeholder workshop is therefore planned, with a particular emphasis on African trees that are threatened with extinction in their natural habitats and those with livelihood values. The workshop will also determine how tree-planting schemes can link into current forestry policy mechanisms whilst remaining community-led, and establish which species can be planted in identified areas.
Copies of the REDD+ manual for botanic gardens are available for download from the BGCI website