The Niedzwetsky Apple is spread thinly across its range in Central Asia. It is considered very rare with individuals dotted sporadically in severely fragmented populations. It is a wild relative of the domesticated apples that line our supermarket shelves and so is of global importance as an international genetic resource.
It has bright red flesh and is an iconic species for the region. The red pigment is thought to have medicinal properties and in some areas is eaten, especially by children, as a means to prevent cancer.
Expansion of agricultural land and development across the species range have led to a reduction of as much as 90% of the apple’s fruit and nut forest habitat in the last 50 years. Whilst overgrazing of cattle within the last strongholds of fruit and nut forests is a barrier to natural regeneration of the species as young shoots are eaten before developing a protective woody stem.
Surveys have revealed that only 117 individuals remain in Kyrgyzstan’s fruit and nut forests. The Global Trees Campaign is supporting the identification and monitoring of the remaining wild individuals and working with the state forestry department and local groups to support propagation of the species in nurseries. So far well over 2,000 saplings have been grown from seed and planted out into the forest to reinforce wild populations.
Did you know?
1.6 billion people depend directly on trees for their livelihoods.