2018 in review

Posted on by Jessica Walker

It was another busy year for GTC. As we prepare for the year ahead, we reflect on some of our biggest stories and achievements from 2018.

GTC keeps active

Bumper year for Brazil

Excellent conditions in southern Brazil led to the region’s trees producing an unusually large amount of fruit and seeds. Our partner, Sociedade Chauá, took advantage of the bumper crop, boosting the seedling numbers in its nursery by 20%. It is one of the most species rich nurseries in southern Brazil; 19,693 seedlings were planted out over 2018 (15,356 by nursery customers who we have been encouraging to plant threatened species). This includes a beautiful but highly threatened palm species, Trithrinax acanthocoma, which is only found in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest:

Pepper bark planting in Zimbabwe

2018 marked a milestone for the Pepper bark tree, currently considered Extinct in the Wild in Zimbabwe. Over 5000 seeds were sown and the future saplings will be distributed to local communities to provide a sustainable source of medicine:

Thousands of steps closer to assessing all the world’s trees

We have been busy progressing toward our Global Tree Assessment objective to assess the conservation status for all of the world’s tree species by 2020. Over 2018, we facilitated the publication of over 1,500 conservation assessments for trees on the IUCN Red List. Some highlights include completing assessments for all species in Theaceae (wild relatives of tea), Fraxinus (ash trees), Aquilaria (agarwood) and Nothofagus (southern beeches):

A year of discoveries

Príncipe reveals it secrets

Two years of research efforts, carried out in partnership with Missouri Botanic Gardens, Fundação Príncipe and the University of Coimbra, transformed our knowledge of Príncipe Island’s flora; including 45 new records for the island, and an incredible eight species that are likely to be new to science. We are now using these findings to develop a long-term conservation project for the island’s trees. Read more here.

Explorations in the Seychelles

Population surveys of two Critically Endangered trees (Trilepisium gymnandrum and Psychotria silhouettae) on Silhouette Island in the Seychelles revealed new growth, finding 200 Trilepisium gymnandrum juveniles. Sadly, the species remain Critically Endangered but now comprehensive Species Action Plans for both species are available. Read more here.

Boost to Baobab populations in Madagascar

A significant population (44 individuals) of the world’s rarest baobab – the Perrier’s baobab – was discovered in Loky-Manambato Protected Area, boosting the known global population to 152. Surveys also found the first signs of natural regeneration of this species in the wild, counting a total of 28 young trees. However, these happy discoveries were tempered by the loss of 9 adult trees to gold mining and burning in the last 2 years, so it is vital our efforts continue in Madagascar:

Dipterocarp discoveries in Indonesia

Our work on Dipterocarps in Indonesia continued in 2018 through our work to support implementation of the National Strategy and Action Plan for Conservation. Surveys on Mursala Island, Indonesia confirmed an amazing array of 26 Dipterocarpaceae species, including Dipterocarpus cinereus, and Hopea bancana, believed to be found nowhere else in the world! GTC has its work cut out as sadly 20 of these species are considered threatened with extinction.

Leading the way in tree conservation

GTC partner recognised with international award

Pablo’s organisation, Sociedade Chauá is recognized as a leader in conservation; in 2018 they presented work at national conferences and participated in two protected areas councils. The Paraná state government invited Pablo to contribute to the development of the state restoration program, which will ensure Chauá continue to influence how tree planting is carried out across the landscape.

Growing capacity for conservation in Cuba

In 2017 GTC supported training through Cuban NGO Planta! for aspiring conservationists and in 2018 this started to yield results: 12 projects are underway to conserve threatened trees in situ and there was a reduction in pressure for four species. This includes Psidium claraense (CR), as a mining company has committed to leaving adult trees standing within its concession – a real result for this species on the edge of extinction.

Unique Collaborations for Conservation

Fagaceae workshop in Indochina

A workshop at Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden in Laos supported regional experts to gain knowledge on Fagaceae identification, the IUCN Red List process and biodiversity monitoring. Several new national records for Cambodia and Laos were discovered from herbarium specimens, as well as a third population of a new species of Lithocarpus in Thailand. A total of 89 Red List conservation assessments were completed for oaks, timbers, Acer and other tree species in the region. The workshop strengthened collaboration for tree conservation and collaborative work is underway.

Fresh shoots

New Dipterocarp project launched

GTC and the Southeast Asia Botanic Gardens Network have launched a new project, ‘Securing the future of threatened tree giants in Borneo’, with support from multiple partners to develop conservation collections, share restoration research, propagation techniques and knowledge between the partners:

Explorations in Pico Bonito

We are developing exciting new work on the Atlantic coast of Honduras to survey coastal and montane forest in and around Pico Bonito National Park. The area contains a huge variety of tree species including a recently discovered magnolia species, Magnolia atlantida, and the Critically Endangered Eugenia coyolensis, both known only from this area. Watch this space to find out more.


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