Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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Integrated conservation of rare plants and restoration of degraded ecosystems in Huaniao Island, Zhoushan Archipelago, East China Sea, Zhejiang

Local project coordinator: College of Life Sciences and Institute of Ecology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou

The Zhoushan archipelago is located in the East China Sea east of Zhejiang province. During the long history of human activity on the islands, the original vegetation, especially broadleaved forests, has been mostly destroyed. Presently the islands are dominated by cultivated forests of Pinus thunbergii and P. massoniana, most of which are progressively disappearing, as a result of the invasive species Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. Strong winds and low soil fertility hinder natural succession and affected areas are mostly covered by tussock grasses. Only relicts of secondary forest remain on some islands with some 20 species listed in the latest edition of the Chinese Plant Red Data Book (Fu, 1992). Endemic plants to the Zhoushan archipelago include Carpinus putoensis, Neolistea sericea, Glehnia littoralis, Ilex integra and Hibiscus hamabo.

This aim of this project is to develop species recovery and restoration action on Huaniao Island (‘Flower and Bird Island’) at the northern limits of the archipelago. Covering an area of just 3.59 km2, the floristic investigation of the island is not complete. As part of this project further surveys of the flowering plants on Huaniao are carried out, with the aim to produce a checklist of the island’s flora. Initial records document at least 389 native species, including 9 endemic species only found on Huaniao. In situ conservation measures will be put in place for species endemic to Huaniao nd species endemic to the archipelago, if located on the island (including Carpinus putoensis, CR). Population sizes and distribution of these species on Huaniao will be recorded. For archipelago endemics not recorded on Huaniao, material will be collected from other islands and ex situ conservation collections will be established on the island.

In 2015, BGCI would like to support the establishment of study plots in three forest types to monitor vegetation development in the long run. A ten hectare large pilot restoration site will be demarcated to test recovery techniques of selected endemic species. These activities will be supported by ex situ conservation collections on Huaniao.