Southern Brazil’s Araucaria forest is one of the world’s most degraded ecosystems, with less than 1% of its primary forest remaining. Over 20% of its 352 described tree species are threatened and, in many cases, their long-term survival will depend on targeted restoration to boost numbers and reconnect remaining populations. Unfortunately, tree planting and land restoration initiatives in the area have tended to focus on a narrow range of common species.
FFI decided to take a different approach; together with our partner, Sociedade Chauá, we sourced seeds from 27 of the most threatened species in the ecosystem, learned how to cultivate them and planted out more than 15,500 seedlings – survival rates are above 90%. We are also working to influence tree nurseries and tree planting initiatives in the area to grow and plant out these threatened tree species, to magnify the impact of our work. All of this is helping to secure a long-term future for valuable species such as imbuia, a beautiful timber tree that was heavily exploited in the 20th century to supply furniture markets.
In 2005, the number of Magnolia sinica trees surviving in their native habitat in China was thought to be down to single figures. Natural regeneration was inhibited by over-collection and competition from invasive species. With FFI support, surveys identified additional trees, mature specimens were actively protected, habitat was restored through removal of competing alien plants, and additional seedlings were planted. There are now some 134 trees under protection. More significantly, the species is now legally protected and , as a result of our in-country capacity building efforts, conservation activity is now led and funded by Chinese institutions and is being rolled out at additional sites.
Rosewood is the world’s most trafficked wildlife product, generating more revenue than ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts combined. High international demand for this luxury timber led to huge spikes in illegal logging. In Belize, where FFI supports its partner Ya’axché Conservation Trust, this had a severe impact on Honduran rosewood, which lost 18% of its population during a five-year logging spree (from 2008-2013 more than 200,000 trees were cut down). Ya’axché’s advice to the Belize government led to a proposal to include rosewood on CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). This was accepted in 2013 and provides a legal framework to control international trade in the species. On the ground, Ya’axché’s patrols have helped to reduce rosewood losses to zero in two key protected areas, Golden Stream Corridor Preserve and Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve.