Recovering rare Camellia species in Guangxi, China

The Global Trees Campaign is working in South China with the Guangxi Institute of Botany to initiate habitat restoration of a 5 hectare pilot site using three rare Camellia species.

Fangcheng Golden Camellia National Nature Reserve (located in the Guangxi Zhang Autonomous) is home to three beautiful and rare species of Camellia –  a genus best known for its beautiful flowers and aromatic leaves used to make tea. Despite its protected status, the reserve is threatened by habitat loss and indiscriminate extraction of natural resources.

Working with Guangxi Institute of Botany, the GTC aims to initiate habitat restoration of a 5 hectare pilot site using a number of native woody species, including Camellia nitidissima, C. euphlebia (Vulnerable) and C. tunghinensis (Vulnerable), as well as Acronychia pedunculata and Mallotus philippensis.

Early progress made by the project involved working with stakeholders to agree on the location of the pilot sites.  Propagation material was also collected allowing the team to provide practical training in propagation and cultivation techniques to reserve staff.

Camellia nitissima, propagation trials.

Camellia nitissima, propagation trials.

Saplings of the three Camellia species have already been planted in two sites and the Golden Camellia Association was established to oversee the restoration trials.

Further progress, in the project’s second year, has led to a number of research papers being published on the biology and soil characteristics of Camellia tunghinensis and C. nitidissima.

The team continued its training programme and a third ex situ conservation collection was established at Nanning Arboretum, growing seedlings of the three Camellia species.

A three hectare large demonstration base has been established at the periphery of the nature reserve to trial population reinforcement programmes with these camellia and other associated species. In 2015, this demonstration base for restoration will be expanded to ten hectares. GTC will also aim to engage some 250 households in camellia planting activities aimed at generating an additional income opportunity for local communities.

Did you know?

The makore tree (Tieghemella heckelii), itself threatened by logging, provides an important food source for forest elephants in Central Africa.

Read more more about trees with important ecological roles.