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Saving seeds in the Indian Ocean Islands

Posted on by Kirsty Shaw

 

Mauritius has at least 24 trees reported on the IUCN Red List to have less than 50 remaining individuals in the wild! Islands are hotspots for threatened species. They often contain endemic species with limited opportunity to become established elsewhere. Red listing and conservation action for threatened trees on islands is therefore a priority for GTC. 

GTC recently ran a training course in Mauritius to build capacity for seed collection from Critically Endangered trees. 

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Over four days, participants from Mauritius, Rodrigues, the Seychelles and Reunion, learnt how to collect good quality seed from threatened species to establish conservation collections and prepare for species recovery programmes.

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Trainers included staff from BGCI, Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. Participants were taught what equipment they need to carry out good quality seed collections

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As part of the course, the group visited Petrin, a site managed by the Mauritian National Parks and Conservation Service, where participants learnt how to assess whether a population is ready for collection.

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Participants also learnt how to make herbarium vouchers to ensure correct identification of target species.

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Ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve, an island of 26 ha just off the coast of mainland Mauritius, was a perfect place to continue training. The island lost much of its native flora and fauna due to invasive species, but the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, who manage the island, is turning the situation around.

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Ile aux Aigrettes provides habitat for the best remaining population of Diospyros eggretarum, a Critically Endangered tree that was heavily harvested for timber and fuelwood. Dictyosperma album var. conjugatum, an endemic palm to Round Island off the North Coast of Mauritius, is planted on Iles aux Aigrettes to educate visitors about the threatened status of Mauritian plant species.

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Participants also visited Mondrian Nature Reserve, another site managed by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. Fencing the site to enable natural regeneration and planting of native species have been successful conservation interventions at Mondrian, which provides habitat for threatened trees including Critically Endangered Chassalia borayana. The left of the photo shows the reserve and the right of the photo is outside the reserve.

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Participants received training course certificates and the opportunity to apply for GTC funding to collect seed of CR tree species – putting what they’ve learnt into practice!

GTC would like to thank the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation for hosting this training course. Look out for new tree conservation projects launched by GTC and partners in the Indian Ocean Islands soon!

To support GTC Island tree conservation projects, please give generously to this year’s Big Give campaign. All donations will be doubled until Midday Tuesday 5th December bit.do/BigGiveBGCI 

Written by Kirsty Shaw

Kirsty is a Head of Ecological Restoration and Tree Conservation at Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), working on the Global Trees Campaign and botanic garden led forest restoration initiatives in Africa.

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