Big questions for tree conservation

Posted on by David Gill
The Global Trees Campaign has identified a number of research opportunities which would contribute to tree species conservation. These may be of interest to MSc and MRes students looking to collaborate with applied practitioners for their research projects in 2018.

Working with our in-country partners, the Global Trees Campaign is currently supporting conservation actions for more than 150 threatened tree species in 35 countries. Our field projects work to reduce threats to tree species, support sustainable use and recover populations through targeted habitat management and reinforcement planting.

To support and inform the practical implementation of our projects we also work in collaboration with universities, other research institutions and students to address key knowledge gaps and research questions related to the conservation of threatened tree species.

For the second year running we are sharing a list of priority research questions identified by our partners and project leaders working on the ground. Answering these questions could directly inform conservation action for some of the world’s most highly threatened tree species and give students hands on experience of with applied conservation.

Priority research questions identified by our partners in 2017 include:
  • How can the genetic diversity of the Araucaria forest’s rarest trees be adequately captured by restoration projects?
  • What conditions best support the natural regeneration of Dalbergia stevensonii, a rosewood species in Belize?
  • What are the optimal methods for propagation of the Critically Endangered pencil juniper Juniperus barbadensis var. barbadensis?
  • What are the barriers, risks and opportunities to developing a sustainable market for pencil junipers as Christmas trees on the island of Saint Lucia?
  • What are the priority tree species for conservation action on the island of Príncipe?
  • How prevalent is hybridisation in four wild Malus niedzwetzkyana populations in Kyrgyzstan and what does this mean for species management?
  • What is the impact of opportunistic fuelwood harvest on rare tree species in Central Asia?
  • Does the Tajik pear (Pyrus bucharica) exist?
  • Do Cambodian elites buy Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) and why?
  • What drives seedling survival for threatened magnolia species in northern Vietnam?
  • How do people in northern Vietnam use and value magnolias and their forest habitat?

More information on the context behind these questions is included in this summary document.

These questions are primarily aimed at MSc and MRes students* looking to develop their research projects in collaboration with NGOs working on the ground. Interested students are invited to submit a CV and covering letter, outlining the research question they would like to study and why they are interested in studying it to

A limited number of the research questions listed above will have funding available (up to £1,000) to contribute to research costs. Students would be responsible for covering other costs associated with their fieldwork and for identifying a primary supervisor from their host institution.

The deadline for expressions of interest for all of these projects is Sunday 10th December 2017.

*Although these questions are aimed at MSc students, the Global Trees Campaign would be interested to form collaborations addressing these or similar questions with other researchers or institutions.


Written by David Gill

Dave worked in Paraguay and Equatorial Guinea before joining Fauna & Flora International to work on the Global Trees Campaign. He provides support to several projects on the ground


  1. Carsten W Glaeser on

    Greetings Gill et al.

    I am an independent arboricultural practitioner and expert tree consultant in NYC. I wish to offer a suggestion for possibly expanding the scope of the global trees campaign. Despite much emphasis on the need to preserve large invaluable trees in forested region there is also another type of forest where they exist that requires consideration- the urban forest. Large trees also populate urban communities and provide direct benefits to thousands of human inhabitants. Yet across the US and elsewhere large trees have been disappearing from the urban landscape largely attributed to by housing development and construction that complete directly for space already occupied by those large trees.

    For decades I have witnessed scores of public urban street trees at times 150-200 years of age that were blatantly destroyed to make way for development- despite unenforced laws that exist that protect those trees from those who seek to destroy them. I am sure this trend exists in scores of other places elsewhere, where urban communities are loosing their trees and the range of environmental and human health benefits from trees deliver. Organizations such as yours should be contributing a much needed voice to those urban trees or teaching those how to do so. Thank you.

    1. Victoria Price on

      Hi Carsten, Thank you for your comments – you raise some excellent points that are indeed a common issue in both urban and rural/wild environments, and an issue that doesn’t always get enough attention. Maintaining age diversity of tree species populations is a crucial element of conservation of tree populations and indeed, forest/woodland ecosystems. We at GTC are quite a small team which is why we focus all of our energy on trees most at risk of extinction – usually is under-resourced areas of the globe. We do aim to conserve trees of mixed ages in the work we do – although invariably populations are so small, it is not always possible. We fully support and encourage efforts to conserve and protect native tree species in all environments – although this kind of work does not meet our mandate at this stage. Through work like the research listed above, we aim to empower conservationists to take a leading role in the conservation of tree species in their areas. Thanks so much for your interest in the GTC and our work.

  2. Pingback: Fauna & Flora International and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI): Inviting applications for ‘The Global Trees Campaign’ to contribute to tree species conservation. | Fund for Bangladesh

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