Global Conservation Consortium for Acer

The overriding aim of the Global Conservation Consortium for Acer is to ensure that no wild species of Acer becomes extinct.

Background

Maples (from the genus Acer) are among our most iconic trees. One of the largest tree genera in the Northern Hemisphere, they are hugely popular as ornamentals in parks, gardens and open spaces, with varied shapes and attractive leaf forms suited to nearly every temperate growing situation. They are also a prime subject of the autumnal pastime of ‘leaf peeping’, as their spectacular seasonal colour displays are sought out by thousands of nature lovers across the temperate world. Maples are also the source of maple syrup, an important industry and the favourite pancake topping choice of many. However, a report published in September 2020 by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) reveals that one in five maple species are at high risk of extinction in the near future and in need of conservation action, with 75% of these threatened species geographically restricted in their native ranges.

A Global Conservation Consortium for Acer

To address the conservation needs of the genus, the Global Conservation Consortium for Acer (GCCA) is working to ensure that no wild maple species becomes extinct. Led by UBC Botanical Garden, at the University of British Columbia – Vancouver, Canada, the GCCA is bringing together the world’s maple experts to achieve the following objectives:

  • Foster new and existing networks of Acer experts
  • Identify Acer species of greatest conservation concern and prioritize conservation action
  • Ensure effective in situ Acer species conservation
  • Establish and manage coordinated ex situ Acer species collections of high conservation value 
  • Foster applied research (e.g. conservation biology, ecology, horticulture, population genetics, taxonomy) to support Acer species conservation
  • Build capacity to empower and mobilize in-country partners in diversity centres and across Acer species’ ranges
  • Increase public awareness and engagement with Acer species conservation issues
  • Collaboratively fund raise to scale-up Acer species conservation action

Using the Red List of Acer as the baseline for its work, current GCCA work includes producing a comprehensive, accession-level gap analysis of threatened maples held in ex situ living collections globally, to inform prioritisation for targeting species for ex situ conservation. With maple species producing seeds that cannot normally be stored long-term by conventional means, it is essential that species are conserved both in the wild and in living collections.

For more information about the GCCA please contact Dan Crowley.

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