With its diverse flora and intense human pressure, southern China is high on the priority list for the Global Trees Campaign. Of particular concern are 22 threatened species of magnolia, many of which occur nowhere else in the world; seven of these species are Critically Endangered (the highest threat level).
The Global Trees Campaign has been working in southern China since 2005. Our project for the enigmatic Magnolia sinica, thought at one time to be reduced to just 10 wild trees, has become a flagship for tree conservation in China.
The area also hosts unique conifer species, beautiful rhododendrons and a varied array of other trees, many of which are highly threatened by forest clearance and over-use.
Some remaining forest patches in this beleaguered landscape have been designated as nature reserves. However, information on threatened trees found within these reserves is often lacking, and the reserve staff often do not have the knowledge or skills to protect the rare flora. A Global Trees Campaign survey of 63 nature reserves in 2010 found that 80% had little or no knowledge of their threatened trees or how to protect them.
Working with Chinese institutions, the Global Trees Campaign is providing training to approximately 30 nature reserves on how to identify, protect and restore threatened trees, and how to involve local communities in tree conservation.
The training is accompanied by on-going support to staff to apply what they have learnt in their reserves. We are particularly targeting twelve top priority nature reserves in Yunnan and Guangxi provinces that host at least three Critically Endangered magnolia species, five threatened conifer species and many other threatened or endemic trees.
The project is facilitating collaboration between Chinese universities and research institutions and the nature reserves, building enduring partnerships that will provide the reserves with on-going technical support for tree conservation.
We are also supporting the State Forestry Service to deliver the goals of their national programme for the protection of very rare plants.