A collaborative network of leading Botanic Gardens, seed banks, Universities, and botanical societies across Africa, Europe, the US and Australia with Botanic Gardens Conservation International are coordinating an international effort aimed at preventing species extinctions in an iconic and diverse group of flowering plants: the heaths, genus Erica.
Habitat destruction and other human-caused changes to the natural environment severely impact the diversity of both plant and animal life. This impact is often greatest in so-called “biodiversity hotspots”, areas of the world such as the Amazon, tropical mountains, and Mediterranean climate zones, in which the concentration of species richness is particularly high. South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is a striking example, home to a remarkable diversity of species found nowhere else in the world. There are over 700 different species of Erica in the CFR, and a shocking proportion of those are threatened with extinction.
Many biodiversity hotspots, like the CFR, are in areas closer to the tropics. However, specialists in particular species and techniques are found across the world, and they can also pull their weight when it comes to preserving unique and irreplaceable biological resources worldwide. By working together, the Global Conservation Consortium for Erica will help preserve biodiversity for the benefit of future generations.
The Global Conservation Consortium for Erica has working groups focused on different aspects of the challenge, from in situ conservation, monitoring and collection, ex situ horticulture and seed banking (see presentations from contributing gardens here and here), taxonomic and phylogenomic research and conservation prioritizing, and outreach. For more information you can find a summary poster here and accompanying 3-minute video presentation, both presented at the Botany 2021 meeting in July this year. If you wish to get involved, follow this link to join the Global Conservation Consortium for Erica! We look forward to hearing from you!