The Global Conservation Consortium for Acer works to bring together the world’s Acer experts, conservationists, and the botanic garden community to ensure that no wild Acer species becomes extinct.
Led by the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, in collaboration with BGCI and other partners from across the genus’s range, The Global Conservation Consortium for Acer has been initiated to address the conservation needs of wild Acer species.
The goal of the Global Conservation Consortium for Acer is to mobilise a coordinated network of institutions and experts who work collaboratively to develop and implement a comprehensive conservation strategy to prevent the extinction of the world’s Acer species.
Acer species, commonly known as maples, are among our most iconic trees. Comprising around 150 species of evergreen and deciduous trees, Acer is one of the largest woody plant genera in the Northern Hemisphere. Though most species are largely temperate, several extend into subtropical and tropical regions in parts of the Americas and Asia. One species, Acer laurinum, occurs south of the equator in Indonesia. The genus is at its most diverse in east Asia, with over 100 species native to the region.
Maples are hugely popular as ornamentals in parks, gardens and open spaces, with varied shapes and attractive leaf forms suited to nearly every temperate growing situation. They are also a prime subject of the autumnal pastime of ‘leaf peeping’, as their spectacular seasonal colour displays are sought out by thousands of nature lovers across the temperate world. Maple species are also the source of maple syrup, an important industry and the favourite pancake topping choice of many.
However, a report published in September 2020 by BGCI reveals that one in five maple species are at high risk of extinction in the near future and in need of conservation action, with 75% of these threatened species geographically restricted in their native ranges.
To address the conservation needs of the genus, the Global Conservation Consortium for Acer is working to ensure that no wild maple species becomes extinct. With maple species producing seeds that cannot normally be stored long-term by conventional means, it is essential that species are conserved both in the wild and in living collections.
The Global Conservation Consortium for Acer is led by:
University of British Columbia Botanical Garden
6804 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4
For questions or more information, or if you are interested in learning more about current Global Conservation Consortium for Acer activities, please contact Dan Crowley, the Global Conservation Consortium for Acer Coordinator.
The Global Conservation Consortium for Acer is currently divided into the following operational regions:
Mexico and Central America
There are eight Acer taxa which occur in Mexico and Central America, including two Critically Endangered species: A. binzayedii and A. skutchii. The genus reaches its southernmost point in the Americas in Honduras, where it is represented by A. negundo subsp. mexicanum. Several taxa in the region have fragmented distributions and in need of conservation action.
Over 90 Acer species occur in China, with a quarter of these threatened in the wild. The centre of diversity for the genus is southwest China, where several species are threatened by habitat loss.
Japan and the Korean Peninsula
Japan is home to 26 Acer species, of which three are threatened with extinction. These include Acer amamiense (CR), which is currently understood to have less than 10 trees remaining in the wild.
11 Acer species occur on the Korean Peninsula, with two threatened species, A. okamotoanum and A. takesimense (both VU), which are both endemic to the island of Ullung-do.
Around 20 Acer species occur in southeast Asia, though several are insufficiently recorded. Acer calcaratum (VU) has a disjunct population, occurring in parts of Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as in China and further west in Myanmar, though its distribution is not well understood. Two threatened species, A. chiangdaoense and A. pseudowilsonii (both EN), are endemic to Thailand.
Western Asia and Caucasus
There are around 18 Acer species native to western Asia and the Caucasus. Two Turkish endemics are threatened with extinction: A. divergens (VU) and A. undulatum (CR), as are two recently described species from northern Iran: A. iranicum (CR) and A. mazandaricum (EN).
United States, Canada and Europe
There are around 13 Acer species native to the United States and Canada, and around 12 native to Europe. None are currently considered threatened with extinction.