Preventing the extinction of a Chinese Hornbeam

Conservation problem  

Fewer than 30 individuals of Carpinus tientaiensis are known to exist in the wild and this already tiny population is under threat from deforestation and land conversion to tea and bamboo plantations.

Project goal

This project is working to reinforce wild populations of C. tientaiensis and is equipping forestry and local botanic garden staff with the horticultural skills to grow this hornbeam species.

Why this species

Carpinus tientaiensis occurs in only two location in Zhejiang, China. With only 24 individuals known to exist, including 19 trees in Tiantai county and five in Panan county, the species is assessed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Population deterioration is due to persistent threats of deforestation and conversion of land to bamboo and tea plantations. The very small population size makes this species vulnerable to extreme events such as high winds, and being outcompeted by fast growing species. Population reinforcement is desperately needed to prevent this species from going extinct.

Carpinus tientaiensis

What are we doing?

Working with local Chinese partners including universities, government institutions and botanic gardens, GTC are establishing research plots within the remaining natural stands of C. tientaiensis. The vegetation and environmental data gathered will be invaluable for future reintroduction initiatives. We are also planting and growing saplings at reinforcement sites at Tiantai Mountain and Dapan Mountain National Nature Reserve. The next steps of the project are to hold a training course on propagation and population reinforcement techniques for forestry department and Sanmen Botanical Garden staff. Developing local capacity will bolster reinforcement efforts, to guarantee the survival of this species into the future.

The main activities of this project include:

  • Surveying to confirm wild populations in the suspected species range.
  • Building-up a significant stock of saplings for living conservation collections near wild C. tientaiensis populations, as well as at Sanmen Botanical Garden.
  • Planting saplings to reinforce exisiting populations and at sites where the species has now become extinct.
  • Training forestry department and botanic garden staff in propagation and population reinforcement techniques.
Key achievements

Over 1500 two-year-old saplings have been planted at selected reinforcement sites on Tiantai Mountain. Survival rates have been high so far at 86-90%. A reintroduction programme has begun at sites where the species has now become extinct; 180 saplings were planted at three sites within the Dapan Mountain National Nature Reserve with a survival rate of 100%.

Contact details

For more information on this project, please contact

Monitoring Carpinus tientaiensis planted at a site near a wild population

Did you know?

One species of rhododendron (R. kanehirae) would be extinct if were not for collections made by botanic gardens.