New research helps boost conservation of Mexican cloud forests

Scientists have published a new Red List report into the status of Mexico’s cloud forest trees, which will provide an important benchmark for the conservation of these important ecosystems.

The Red List of Mexican Cloud Forest Trees summarises the findings from recent research by Mexican experts working in partnership with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group.

The report details the global IUCN conservation status of 762 tree species. The authors have also included information on current and potential uses for each species, in the hope that this will help promote sustainable resource management and conservation.

A botanical biodiversity ‘hotspot’ under threat

The cloud forests of Mexico are mostly found on steep slopes and protected ravines in tropical and subtropical mountain areas. These forests are exceptionally rich in botanical variety, with over 2,800 recorded plant species.

Trees account for around 25% of the total botanical diversity in this type of forest, and play a vital role in its ecological functions (such as the regulation of climate, soil quality and water supply).

What’s more, cloud forests provide many goods and services that are vital to local communities, including traditional medicines and edible fruits, seeds, leaves and nuts. Materials harvested from these forests are also used to make a diverse range of products, from rope and clothing dyes to toothpaste.

Despite the ecological, economic and cultural importance of these forests, they are not well represented within the country’s protected area network. As a result, these ecosystems are facing severe threats from deforestation and other human pressures.

The new Red List report will provide a solid scientific foundation on which conservation strategies can now be built.

“The collection of information on tree species of conservation concern is vital for planning conservation action and the restoration of forest ecosystems,” said Sara Oldfield, Chair of the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group.

“The results of this assessment indicate that over 60% of Mexico’s cloud forest trees are threatened with extinction. Clearly, urgent action must be taken to conserve and restore the forests,” she added.

The Global Trees Campaign

This four year research project was a remarkable collaboration, bringing together a range of academics, botanists and ecologists with expertise in this area.

Its findings will be used to help support the work of the Global Trees Campaign, a joint initiative between FFI and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).

The Global Trees Campaign works to provide practical support for tree conservation by:

  • Directly supporting threatened tree projects
  • Helping others to conserve threatened trees
  • Encouraging others to consider threatened trees