Magnolia, you sweet thing
Highly prized for their beautiful blooms, magnolias are a firm favourite of gardening enthusiasts in the UK and beyond. Unfortunately, many of their wild relatives have been exploited to the point where they are threatened with extinction.
In the northernmost mountains of Vietnam, last stronghold of the critically endangered Magnolia grandis, much of the forest understorey has been continually cleared to make way for cardamom cultivation, and to supply the firewood needed to dry the seed pods. The removal of young saplings and seedlings prevents the regeneration of the magnolias and other threatened trees.
Fauna & Flora and our partners supported community-led patrols to protect the last remaining mature Magnolia grandis trees – down to just 250 at one point – stopping timber extraction in its tracks. We also reinforced the wild population with over 2,700 nursery-grown seedlings.
At the same time, we worked with farmers to highlight the value of this fast-growing species as canopy cover for their shade-loving cardamom crop. Many farmers are now actively protecting – and even planting out – magnolia seedlings in their plantations. Recent field surveys recorded around 750 Magnolia grandis saplings that had regenerated naturally since the project began.