The Global Conservation Consortium for Cycads is currently divided into the following operational regions:
Two genera, Encephalartos (70+ species) and Stangeria (monotypic), are endemic to the African region (encompassing continental and island nations). Wild populations of Encephalartos have been decimated by decades of poaching and simultaneous habitat degradation with numerous taxa now functionally extinct in the wild. In these cases, in situ conservation is no longer feasible and species survival is contingent on ex situ approaches, coupled with scientifically informed reintroduction. For species that persist in the wild, long term management and monitoring strategies are critical.
Nearly 80 species of Cycas are distributed across the Asian region with particularly high diversity in China, India and Southeast Asia. Of the species currently assessed, the majority are threatened or endangered. With habitat loss a primary threat, it is critical to survey and protect extant wild populations and strengthen ex situ coverage of priority species.
Caribbean & Mexico
Currently, 8 species of Zamia are known to be native to the Caribbean, along with the monotypic genus Microcycas (Cuba). These island taxa are particularly vulnerable to climate change, loss of habitat and introduced pests/pathogens. Significant Zamia diversity is also found in Mexico along with extraordinary richness in two allied genera, Ceratozamia (30 species) and Dioon (16 species). Many species are threatened by shifting land practices and accompanying habitat destruction and, to a lesser extent, extraction. Careful monitoring, community-based conservation strategies and genetically informed ex situ collections are all key objectives across the region.
Central & South America
This region is a rich repository of cycad diversity with at least 58 species of Zamia distributed from Guatemala to central Brazil and several Ceratozamia and Dioon found in Central America. Panama and Colombia are regional hotspots of diversity, with numerous endemic cycads, some only recently described. Habitat loss and degradation present threats to cycads across the region and active in situ management is essential, alongside community-based conservation and ongoing biodiversity exploration.
Australia is a center of diversity for Cycas and three endemic genera, Macrozamia, Lepidozamia and Bowenia. Habitat degradation – accelerated by climate change – is impacting cycad populations across the continent. Additional Cycas diversity is harbored within neighboring island nations but introduced insect pests have decimated some of these wild populations. Protection of intact, healthy habitat is crucial, as is creation of genetically representative ex situ collections.