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Friday, April 25, 2008


Q: What is a threatened tree?
A: This is a tree species that is threatened with extinction (rather than an individual tree). The threat status is taken from Oldfield, S.F., Lusty, C. and Mackinven, A. (1998) The world list of threatened trees. World Conservation Press, Cambridge, UK. In this publication, the IUCN Red List categories and criteria are used to define the degree of threat.

Q: What are the main threats to trees?
A: Habitat destruction and commercial logging are the main threats to tree species around the world.

Q: What is the Global Trees Campaign?
A: The Campaign was set up by Fauna & Flora International and the UNEP - World Conservation Monitoring Centre to draw attention to the vast number of threatened trees throughout the world. Botanic Gardens Conservation International joined as partners in 2006. The Global Trees Campaign aims to save the world's most threatened tree species and their habitats through provision of information, conservation action and support for sustainable use.

Q: How are project selected for support?
A: Many of the projects came as a result of the listing for "The world list of threatened trees" and a subsequent survey of tree experts worldwide. The Global Trees Campaign is now working to conserve tree species in countries where it has existing projects, and also welcomes suggestions from the scientific community for future conservation work.

Q: If we protect forests, won't that automatically protect their rare tree species?
A: The global track record for protecting forests is poor. About 80 per cent of Amazonian rainforest destruction is the result of illegal logging. And just protecting large areas of forest isn't enough. Some trees occur in such small numbers that they can easily be wiped out by accident unless they are mapped and specifically protected. Other rare trees grow outside forest habitats and have unique conservation requirements.

Q: Can't botanists ensure the future of endangered species by collecting their seeds and storing them in a seed bank?
A: Easier said than done! Seed banking works well with many temperate plants and annual crops, but seeds from tropical trees tend to be short-lived and quickly die under low-temperature, low-moisture conditions. Even in ideal conditions, seeds only have a limited storage life and must be germinated at regular intervals to produce plants that will regenerate a fresh seed sample. This isn't practical for trees that take decades to reach flowering size. Each time seeds are taken out of store for regeneration some genetic viability is also lost.

Q: When money and resources for conservation are scarce, is it really worth conserving endemic trees that are only a minor part of the world's flora?
A: Endemics have disproportionate importance wherever they occur, both for local human populations and wildlife. Areas with a high level of endemic tree species are often 'hotspots' of species diversity. Lose an endemic tree on and island, and all the species that depend on it - including people - will suffer.

Q: Why not allow logging companies to fell natural forests, provided they leave rare species intact?
A: Forests are more than the sum of their parts. Many tropical trees depend on specialist pollinators, such as bats and birds, which disappear when forests are cleared. Brazil nut trees left standing when a forest is felled produce poor seed crops due to pollination failure. Isolated mature trees are easily toppled by wind when they lose shelter from surrounding forest.

Q: How can I help?
A: You can:

  1. Support the Global Trees Campaign!
  2. Be sure that any wood you buy comes from a sustainable source, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or similar.
  3. Recycle all wood and paper. you are based in the UK, check our lists of wood recycling facilities on the wood waste pages.
  4. Campaign for better international legislation to curb rainforest destruction. There have been many tentative pledges by governments to curb illegal logging, but by keeping the pressure on, these pledges will hopefully be put into action.
  5. Get to know your local native and exotic trees and support local planting schemes.
  6. Plant your own trees!


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