Japan is a diversity centre for maple species, including three that are threatened with extinction in the wild: A. amamiense, A. miyabei and A. pycnanthum. Each is faced with different challenges, and A. pycnanthum, the Japanese red maple, is now faced with a new threat: the construction of a new railway line through one of its most important populations in Mitake, Gifu Prefecture. Should the proposed developments go ahead, the population of at least 74 mature individuals will be significantly impacted. In turn, the habitats of numerous other threatened species of plants and animals that occur in association with the Japanese red maple, would also be lost.
In response to this new threat to Acer pycnanthum and its associated species, the Committee of Nature Conservation of the Ecological Society of Japan sent a latter to the Central Japan Railway Company and to the Mitake town government highlighting the plight of Acer pycnanthum and urging them to to reconsider this development plan (a copy is available here, in Japanese). Further letters of support will also be sent to the Japanese Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and Gifu Prefectural Government. News items on the subject (also in Japanese) can be viewed at the following links: News Web; zf-web; Asahi Digital.
It is hoped that these efforts will help to conserve this important Acer pycnanthum habitat. Further work is required to save this and many other species in Mitake, and updates on the species’ status will be provided here.