Report: Two-thirds of Madagascar’s endemic tree species are threatened with extinction
BGCI’s Red List of Trees of Madagascar provides the first comprehensive conservation assessment of the island’s tree diversity
March 31, 2021 (London, UK) — Like many islands, Madagascar is home to an incredible diversity of endemic species, but a new report reveals 63 per cent of Madagascar’s endemic tree species are threatened with extinction.
Until relatively recently there has been limited data available about the conservation status of the country’s trees. BGCI’s Red List of Trees of Madagascar provides the first comprehensive assessment of the conservation status of Malagasy trees.
Madagascar is home to 3,118 tree species, making it the twelfth most species rich country in the world with respect to tree diversity. Moreover, 93 per cent of these trees are endemic to the island. The primary threats to Malagasy tree species are logging and wood harvesting, agricultural expansion and increased fires. Of particular interest are economically-important Dalbergia (palisander and rosewood) and Diospyros (ebony) species, as well as baobabs and horticultural-important species such as Aloes, Didiereaceae, and Delonix.
Currently, only 285 (16 per cent) of threatened trees endemic to Madagascar are found in ex situ collections; therefore the majority of species have no safeguard against extinction as no specimens are available in a seedbank, botanic garden or arboretum. This falls far short of Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation which states that at least 75 percent of threatened species should be held in ex situ collections.
Considering threatened endemic tree species, 83% are recorded in at least one protected area. This is not surprising as protected areas represent where much of the remaining natural vegetation is. More research could be done to understand the protection levels for these species. There are 307 threatened species endemic to Madagascar that occur entirely outside of the protected area network. Work should be done to investigate how these species could be effectively protected in their natural environment.
This work was funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund in a project called “Assessing the Conservation Status of Madagascar’s Trees for Effective Conservation of Key Biodiversity Areas and Protected Areas” and Fondation Franklinia. This is the first comprehensive assessment of the status of the trees of Madagascar.
This work has contributed to the Global Tree Assessment (GTA), an initiative led by Botanic Gardens Conservation International to assess the extinction risk to all the world’s 60,000 tree species. The results of the first phase of this initiative will be launched later this year.
Join the report launch webinar on Wed, 31 Mar 2021 12:00 – 13:30 BST.
“Madagascar is one of the most tree species-rich countries, with many iconic tree species, however The Red List of Trees of Madagascar shows for the first time the extent to which Malagasy tree species are threatened, requiring immediate action to prevent their extinction. The Red List of Trees of Madagascar aims to both provide information to prioritise conservation efforts and inspire action to improve the conservation status of those trees most at risk of extinction, to maintain this unique diversity for years to come.”
– Emily Beech, Tree Red List Manager, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI)
- BGCI interviewee — Emily Beech
- Missouri Botanical Garden Madagascar Program interviewee — Marina Rabarimanarivo
- Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre interviewee — David Rabehevitra
- University of Antananarivo interviewee — Aro Vonjy Ramarosandratana
- Madagascar Plant Specialist Group interviewee — Mijoro Rakotoarinivo
BGCI is the world’s largest plant conservation network, comprising more than 600 botanic gardens in over 100 countries. Established in 1987, BGCI is a registered charity with offices in the UK, US, Singapore, China and Kenya. BGCI’s Global Botanic Garden Fund aims to drive plant conservation in botanic gardens with a preference for small botanic gardens in developing countries and biodiversity hotspots.
Communications Lead, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI)
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