BGCI are pleased to announce the Global Conservation Consortium for Nothofagus, which will be led by Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in West Sussex, UK. With more than 20 percent of Nothofagus species threatened with extinction in the wild, there exists an urgent need to co-ordinate efforts to efficiently and effectively safeguard these important species.
All Nothofagus species identified as at risk of extinction are in need of conservation action, particularly those that are Critically Endangered (N. nuda, N. stylosa, N. womersleyi). Focusing on conserving wild populations, it is clear that an integrated approach is needed to ensure that no species becomes extinct and only 20 of 37 species of Nothofagus are currently held in ex situ collections globally. Several threatened species are either poorly represented or not represented at all in living collections. A comprehensive gap analysis will soon be undertaken to establish the quality of ex situ holdings and to inform prioritisation for conservation actions. As little research has so far been conducted into seed storage and germination requirements of several species, this area will also be addressed.
Nothofagus and Wakehurst
Wakehurst holds an internationally significant collection of Nothofagus species in an area called Coates Wood, which is a woodland plateau on the eastern boundary of Bloomers Valley in the High Weald of Sussex, UK. Wakehurst’s mild climate and acidic sandy loam soils lends itself to grow temperate trees and shrubs from around the world, but particularly from the southern hemisphere.
Wakehurst currently has 258 Nothofagus accessions of which 95% are from natural source. 17 species are represented in the botanic collections, of which four are threatened, including plants from Tasmania, Argentina and Chile. The collection includes mature specimens of N. dombeyi, N. alpina and N. obliqua but also a significant number of new plantings of N.alessandrii, N. betuloides, N. glauca and N. cunninghamii, propagated at Wakehurst following collaborative fieldwork with in-country partners and Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, which is located at Wakehurst.
As lead of the Global Conservation Consortium for Nothofagus, Wakehurst will support the integrated conservation of Nothofagus species across the entire range of the genus to ensure a secure future for this ecologically significant tree group.