The new Red List of Magnoliaceae highlights the startling truth that nearly half of all magnolia species are threatened with extinction in the wild.
|Magnolia sirindhorniae. Endangered. China. (Credit: Yang Keming)||Magnolia cubensis ssp. acunae. Critically Endangered. Cuba.||Magnolia jardinensis. Critically Endangered. Colombia.|
The 2016 Red List of Magnoliaceae (published 18 March 2016) highlights the startling truth that many species in this treasured plant family are at risk of going extinct. The Red List of Magnoliaceae presents conservation assessments conducted by experts for 304 wild magnolia species from around the world. The assessments have been carried out using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, an internationally recognised and widely used system for classifying species at risk of extinction.
In 2007 the first Red List of Magnoliaceae reported that many of the world’s magnolias were threatened with extinction. Since this publication new information on existing taxa has been published and new threats have emerged. In addition, many new Magnolia species have been described from the Neotropical region. In the light of this new information and new taxa, it was time to produce an updated and extended version of the Red List of Magnoliaceae.
Magnolias are widely appreciated around the world as ornamental trees due to their attractive flowers. But the results of the 2016 Red List of Magnoliaceae are far from pretty. Nearly half (48%) of the magnolia species assessed are threatened with extinction in the wild. The Neotropics hold the highest proportion of threatened magnolias, with 75% of Neotropical magnolia species threatened with extinction. In the wild, magnolias are principally threatened by logging activity, with habitat loss due to land conversion to agriculture and livestock farming also a significant factor in their global decline. Other threats include collection of wild plant material and impacts of climate change.
The report also surveys how many magnolia species are found in botanic gardens, arboreta and seed banks. Ex situ collections are a vital safeguard in the event that wild populations of a species become extinct, and can be used for conservation research and to propagate seedlings for planting back out in the wild. While the results of this survey indicate that considerable progress has been made in recent years, still less than half (43%) of threatened magnolia species are represented in ex situ collections.
The Red List of Magnoliaceae aims to stimulate conservation action for the magnolia species highlighted as under threat. BGCI is already working with our partner botanic gardens to carry out practical conservation projects to protect threatened magnolia species. For example:
In China, BGCI is working with local botanic gardens to raise awareness of the threats facing magnolias in the wild and restore wild populations through reintroduction and restoration projects. Find out more about this work here.
In Cuba, BGCI is working with local coffee farmers to restore populations of Critically Endangered Magnolia cubensis ssp. acunae. Find out more about this project here.
In Colombia, BGCI is working with local botanic gardens to raise environmental awareness of the conservation value of native magnolias and to carry out propagation and reintroduction programmes. Find out more about this project here.
The Red List of Magnoliaceae is the latest publication for the Global Tree Assessment, which aims to provide conservation assessments of all the world's tree species by 2020. Find out more about this project here.
The Red List identifies 147 wild magnolias as being in danger of extinction from a global total of 304 species.
The survey identified 2,274 Magnoliaceae records from 238 institutions in 47 countries. However, only 362 ex situ records representing the 37 of the most threatened Magnoliaceae were located. This means that more than half of the Critically Endangered or Endangered taxa identified in the 2016 Red List are currently not known to exist in ex situ collections.
Our work with threatened magnolias comes under the Global Trees Campaign (GTC), a joint initiative between BGCI and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) to safeguard the world's threatened trees from extinction. Click here to visit the Global Trees Campaign website.