Integrated conservation for rare Fagaceae species in Indochina

Conservation Problem

Fagaceae, a diverse and important family across the Southeast Asian archipelago is under-pressure from rapid socio-economic development and large-scale land use conversion, yet capacity and coordinated conservation measures for Fagaceae are lacking in the region.  

Project Goal

Advance knowledge of threats and conservation needs for rare oaks and their relatives in Indochina and build botanical and conservation capacity in the region through training and network development.

Why these species?

The Fagaceae family includes the temperate oaks, beeches, and chestnuts, and is one of the best studied tree groups globally. This highly diverse plant family is commonly found throughout the middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and has several large, ecological keystone genera confined to the Asian tropics. Due to rapid socio-economic development and large scale land use conversion in Asia, habitats for Fagaceae and the forested ecosystems they support continue to diminish. While basic conservation measures such as floristic surveys and Red List assessments have been initiated in some regions, these efforts are highly patchy geographically, and many gaps in our botanical knowledge and obstacles to conservation progress still exist (e.g. in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar). Local capacity building, including initiatives to build botanical knowledge, identify mutual conservation goals between stakeholders, capture accumulated knowledge, and refine expertise via training and communication, are critical for Fagaceae conservation in Indochina.

Lithocarpus gigantophyllus is found in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. (Credit: Son Hoang)

What are we doing?

With our partners The Morton Arboretum, Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden (Laos), SEABRI-CAS, Kachin State Forest Department, the Forest Research Institute of Myanmar and Dr. Joeri Strijk of Guangxi University/ Alliance for Conservation Tree Genomics, we have developed cross-sector collaborations, with a goal of catalysing local stakeholders to study and protect the rich Fagaceae flora of the region. Project activities include:

  • Greatly increase knowledge of the diversity of and threats to native Fagaceae species in Indochina through field surveys and population scouting for strategic seed collection
  • Compile IUCN Red List assessments for priority Indochinese Fagaceae species
  • Train local partners in ex situ conservation methods, propagation, taxonomy and the IUCN Red List methodology

Key achievements

This project is contributing to the conservation of Fagaceae in Indochina through the strong collaboration of regional and international partners. A checklist of native Fagaceae species of Indochina has been created in collaboration with Dr. Joeri Strijk.

Dr. Joeri Strijk presents at the Fagaceae workshop at PTK in 2018. (Credit: Jean Linsky/BGCI)

A workshop on ‘Conservation of Fagaceae in Indochina’ was held at Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden in 2018 and attended by 17 participants from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. The workshop consisted of skills training in identification, the IUCN Red List process and biodiversity monitoring. Red List assessments for Quercus and other trees species in the region were reviewed and completed by participants and over 90 assessments were submitted to IUCN for publication on the Red List. Also during the workshop, herbarium specimens were reviewed and a new record for Thailand was discovered.


Workshop participants use key features to identify Fagaceae from herbarium specimens. (Credit: Jean Linsky/BGCI)

Field surveys in western Myanmar by experts from Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, Myanmar Forest Research Institute, Southeast Asian Biodiversity Research Institute (SEABRI) and Chinese Academy of Science surveyed and sampled all Fagaceae species from savanna dry forest (ca. 900m) through to dwarf subalpine shrubs at 2900-3300m. Collection records, DNA and herbarium samples were made to support taxonomy, phylogenetics, and conservation genetics research. Experts also reviewed hundreds of herbarium specimens at Myanmar’s Forest Research Institute, leading to the discovery of new records for Myanmar, and even suspected new species to science.

GTC will continue to support the conservation of Fagaceae in Indochina and globally though the Global Oak Conservation Partnership and the Southeast Asia Botanic Gardens (SEABG) Network.

Header image: Dr. Joeri Strijk presents at the 2018 Conservation of Fagaceae in Indochina at Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden (Credit: Jean Linsky/BGCI).

Contact details

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Did you know?

There are more than 500 different oak species in the world. Find out about our work to protect the world’s most threatened oaks.