Reviewing conifer conservation
19 December 2013
2013 has been a busy year for conifer conservation with a global reassessment of the status of the world’s conifer species, a global ex situ survey of conifer collections undertaken, and ongoing practical conservation projects focused on safeguarding threatened conifers.
A global reassessment of the conservation statuses of the world’s conifers was undertaken and up-to-date assessments published to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in July 2013. This work was coordinated by Aljos Farjon, Chair of the IUCN/SSC Conifer Specialist Group, and jointly undertaken with staff at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). The global reassessment highlighted that 34% of conifers are globally threatened with extinction.
BGCI have recently undertaken a global survey of ex situ conifer collections as part of our work contributing to the Global Trees Campaign, a joint initiative between BGCI and Fauna and Flora International (FFI) to safeguard the world’s threatened trees from extinction. The survey found that 81% of globally threatened conifer taxa are present in ex situ collections. This means that Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) to have more than 75% of threatened plants in ex situ collections by 2020, is being met for threatened conifers.
However, further analysis of reported ex situ collections shows that many threatened conifers are limited to a small number of collections and that wild source collections consist of a small number of individuals. This both limits the security of these ex situ conservation efforts and limits their availability and suitability for recovery or restoration programmes.
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