CONSERVATION OF THREATENED CHINESE CONIFERS
One in five Chinese conifers is listed as globally threatened. The Global Trees Campaign is working with two Chinese institutions to take action for two of the most threatened species, Thuja sutchuenensis and Picea neoveitchii. The project will study remaining wild populations of the two species to identify reasons for their poor regeneration and will attempt to propagate them in nursery conditions, to ensure their ex-situ conservation and provide plants for potential future re-planting in the wild.
Within China, 226 species of conifer occur – 28.3% of the total species known. Extensive habitat destruction coupled with heavy exploitation means that 45 species of conifer in China are now classified as globally threatened.
CURRENT WORK: 2009-2010
Following surveys for Thuja sutchuenensis in 2008-9, a monitoring programme was set up at the largest known site, Dabashan Nature Reserve, to collect phenological, ecological and meteorological data. This is involving staff from the Nature Reserve and local villagers, using recording forms designed with help from the UK Forestry Commission and donated temperature sensors. It is revealing useful information on the species, including its growth, flowering and fruiting periods.
Two rounds of germination trials for Thuja sutchuenensis have been conducted following seed collection in October 2009 and April 2010, testing two different germination methods.
First Phase - 2008
During 2008, FFI, through the Global Trees Campaign, initiated partnerships with Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden and Wuhan Botanical Garden (Chinese Academy of Sciences) to work on the conservation of two highly threatened species of conifer Thuja sutchuenensis and Picea neoveitchii . Staff from Bedgebury Pinetum in the UK have also been participating in this work.
Thuja sutchuenensis, endemic to the Dabashan Mountains of central China, was described in the World List of Threatened Trees in 1998 as Extinct in the Wild. The species shot to fame when it was rediscovered in 1999, and around 200 individuals are now known to exist at three separate locations in Chongqing Municipality and Sichuan Province. It remains one of the world’s most endangered conifers, classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN.
Picea neoveitchii is classified as Endangered by IUCN. Recently, only 11 individuals have been found in three surveyed locations in Henan, Shaanxi and Gansu Provinces, although further surveys are likely to reveal more.
Working through these local partners and with funding support from the Flagship Species Fund of Defra, the Franklinia Foundation and the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum, the first phase of the project worked to:
a) identify any further trees of the two species through searches of remaining potential habitat and confirm the abundance and status of known populations;
b) identify the reasons for poor regeneration of both species in the wild;
c) develop techniques for propagation and growing of seedlings of both species in cultivation.
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