The year 2017 marked another year huge leap forward for Global Trees Campaign (GTC) and our partners. As we make plans for another exciting year ahead, we reflect upon our achievements in 2017. Here we share a taste of some of our proudest moments; from high-level policy impacts, to grassroots people power, making a real difference to tree populations.
A World first
For the first time in 2017 we answered the question ‘how many tree species are there in the world?’. The answer, was 60,065. In April GTC published ‘GlobalTreeSearch’, the first comprehensive list of the world’s tree species and their country distributions. It might seem surprising that a global list of trees was first published in 2017, but GlobalTreeSearch represents the work of thousands of botanists over a period of centuries, discovering, collection and describing species across the globe. The database is available to search online.
Mulanje cedar populations boosted
In Malawi we are working with Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust and the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi to restore populations of Critically Endangered Mulanje Cedar (Widdringtonia whytei). The tree is endemic to Mulanje Mountain where thousands of trees used to grow, but in recent years the tree has been heavily over-exploited as the timber is in high demand. Last year, 150 people were trained as nursery workers and employed to grow Mulanje Cedar seedlings in ten community nurseries set up around the mountain and 400,000 seedlings have been raised. Planting began in December 2017, and at the time of writing 137,000 have already been planted.
This year GTC funded surveys in Kyrgyzstan found three new populations of Critically Endangered Bukharan pears. The new populations are large, which is rare – pear trees are normally found in small groups or individually. Therefore the populations are hugely important and the find has boosted the known population in the country to 203 (up from the three known earlier this year). Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) Kyrgyzstan team are now working with communities to mitigate impacts of landslides and grazing, which are currently the greatest threats to these important new populations.
More champions for trees
As part of our work to help people gain tree conservation skills and support tree conservation leaders, over 2016-17 GTC and the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) collaborated to provide both tree conservation project funding and leadership training for promising young conservationists. CLP applications focused on tree species have increased from zero in 2015 up to 38% – engaging more people to address problems facing tree species. An update on our first grant to conservation leader, Abdulrahman Rashid Mubarak Al Hinai, who was supported to survey dragon trees in Oman, will be posted on our website later this year.
Leading a restoration revolution
GTC have an ambition to influence tree-planting initiatives around the world to include more threatened tree species. With our partner Sociedade Chauá, we are leading by example in southern Brazil by engaging with nurseries and planting organisations to increase the number of threatened species planted in the Araucaria forest. Significant success was made in 2017 when changes in practice started to be evidenced across the state of Paraná. Following training for 10 state nurseries, all ten have already begun to stock and supply native threatened trees to restoration practitioners. Further, in 2017 we worked directly with landowners to plant more than 3,000 seedlings from 21 threatened species.
All eyes on islands
Islands are hotspots for threatened species; they often contain high numbers of unique, endemic species. As a result of this much of our work recently focused on conservation of island tree species. During 2017, we trained to 40 people, working directly on threatened trees, on islands all over the world. We hosted a seed collection training course on Mauritius, with participants from Rodrigues, Seychelles and Reunion, all of which host a high number of threatened tree species. In addition, we carried out workshops to assess the conservation status of trees in Haiti and supported conservation projects for threatened trees native to Fiji, Cuba, Principe and the Dominican Republic.
National protection for twelve Indonesian trees
Efforts to embed threatened tree species conservation within Indonesian national policy reached a major milestone in 2017 when the Indonesia Forum for Threatened Trees (a group of tree conservation experts from botanic gardens, charities/NGOs and research institutes, founded by FFI Indonesia) played a leading role in developing a National Conservation Action Plan (NCAP) for 12 of the country’s most threatened tree species. NCAPs provide species with increased funding and protection under Indonesian law but, until now, had never been developed for any of the country’s tree species. The final plan will be enshrined into Indonesian law in 2018.
Over 1,000 steps closer to assessing all the world’s trees
In 2017, the Global Tree Assessment (an initiative to assess the conservation status of every known tree species by the year 2020) had its best year yet; over 1,077 new or updated tree assessments were published to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The list now contains over 10,000 tree conservation assessments but worryingly, 63% of these were categorised as threatened with extinction. We continue to expand GTC’s red listing efforts across the globe with the aim to encourage this essential conservation activity in pursuit of our 2020 goal.
New shoots for 2018
Looking ahead we have some exciting activities in the pipeline for 2018. We will be expanding work to protect Dragons, Irons and Phoenixes in the Atlantic Ocean (watch this space), learning about the mysterious death tree in West Africa and exploring new, important tree haunts in Myanmar. Over the year we will be training tree conservationists in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, China, Indonesia, the Caribbean and Mexico, as well as many other countries, to increase capacity for threatened tree conservation. As part of efforts to assess all of the world’s tree species this year, we have a big ambition to assess Madagascar’s extensive list of endemic dry forest species in 2018.