Seeking the last population of the Gergeranian pear

Conservation Problem

Only a handful of Gergeranian pear trees (Pyrus gergerana) are known to exist, found in villages in southern Armenia; a large population is alleged to persist a sanctuary, but nothing else is known about the species.

Project Goal

Locate and protect the last wild population of the Gergeranian pear.

Why this species?

Ger-Ger State Sanctuary in southern Armenia is believed to be named after the Gergeranian pear (Pyrus gergerana) – a Critically Endangered species. Little is known about the Gergeranian pear, except that it is found in southern Armenia and nowhere else in the world.  

The Ger-Ger Sanctuary is renowned for its high number of wild pear tree species, many of which are also rare and endemic, including the Endangered Daralagezian pear (Pyrus daralagezi). Most significantly, the sanctuary is suspected to contain the largest remaining population of P. gergerana, yet no one knows where, or indeed if, the species can be found in the site or how many trees there are.

Pear surveys conducted in Armenia in 2017 resulted in a large number of herbarium specimens. Credit; Anna Asatryan

Pear surveys conducted in Armenia in 2017 resulted in a large number of herbarium specimens. Credit; Anna Asatryan/Nature RIghts Protection

At the start of 2016, only a single Gergeranian pear was known to exist; in Ger-Ger village close to the sanctuary’s border. The dearth of information about this last suspected stronghold means we have no knowledge of what the greatest threats to the species may be and therefore, how to protect the species from any further decline.

With just four individuals trees known to exist, it’s critical that we discover any remaining populations of Gergeranian pear, so that we can ensure the species is saved from extinction.

What are we doing about it?

One thing we can be sure of is that the current Gergeranian pear population size is very small, and it’s likely that the Ger-Ger State Sanctuary is the last remaining site where the species still persists in any good numbers. With our partner Nature Rights Protection (NRP) we are undertaking the following key actions:

  • Surveys of the Ger-Ger State Sanctuary to locate threatened pear trees
  • Training of local people and foresters in seed collection and pear species identification
  • Collecting seed of any identified Gergeranian pear for use in future reinforcement efforts
Wild gergeranian pear (Pyrus gergerana) in Armenia. Credit; Anna Asatryan.

Wild Gergeranian pear (Pyrus gergerana) in Armenia. Credit; Anna Asatryan/Nature Rights Protection.

Key achievements

This project is in its early stages; In order to identify all existing populations, NRP conducted surveys in five locations in the south of the country known to have previously harboured the species. We found four trees in total; one in Ger-Ger village, two found in a new location just north of the Ger-Ger State Sanctuary and one further south.

Unfortunately the three other sites we surveyed no longer contained populations of Gergeranian pear and we thus established that the Ger-Ger State Sanctuary was likely to be the last remaining stronghold of the species.

 

For more information on this project, please contact; globaltrees@fauna-flora.org

Did you know?

The Global Trees Campaign has supported tree conservation in over 25 countries, implementing conservation projects for over 100 threatened tree species.