The Global Conservation Consortium for Nothofagus works to bring together the world’s Nothofagus experts, conservationists, and the botanic garden community to ensure that no wild Nothofagus species becomes extinct.
Led by Wakehurst, in collaboration with BGCI and other partners from across the genus’s range, The Global Conservation Consortium for Nothofagus has been initiated to address the conservation needs of Nothofagus species.
Nothofagus, also known as ‘southern or false beech’ are a relatively small genus comprising of 37 species of evergreen, deciduous trees or shrubs.
The sole genus within the Nothofagaceae, the family is unusual in that it has a disjunct distribution across the southern hemisphere due to the breakup of the ancient landmass, Gondwana. Despite their fractured distribution, they remain a major component of forests in parts of Chile, Argentina, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Australia including Tasmania. Nothofagus forests range in type from pure stands dominated by a single tree species to species-rich temperate and tropical rainforests, ranging from sea-level to alpine at 4000 m.
Although a small family, the group is ecologically significant which over time has become the core component of a variety of forest types on which much flora and fauna solely rely upon. In Papua New Guinea where Nothofagus is at its centre of its diversity, it is common that these tropical trees can reach 45 m in height and live for over 500 years. Trees at this size and age have proven to be economically valuable as many countries use Nothofagus as a source of timber, both on a commercial scale as well as being used by local communities.
Over most of the distribution of the genus, Nothofagus forests have been significantly influenced by humans through extensive logging, the use of fire, and the introduction of livestock and other exotic herbivores. This has resulted in many species becoming fragmented across their range leaving many species vulnerable to secondary threats, such as inbreeding, loss of genetic exchange and climate change.
Published in by BGCI in 2018, the Red List of Nothofagus reported that out of 37 species, 11 are listed as threatened with extinction. Three species are assessed as Critically Endangered, three as Endangered and five are assessed as Vulnerable.
The GCC for Nothofagus is led by Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in West Sussex.
Haywards Heath RH17 6TN
For questions or more information, or if you are interested in learning more about current GCC for Nothofagus activities please contact Jo Wenham and Olivia Steed-Mundin at Wakehurst.
Ten species of Nothofagus are found across both Chile and Argentina. The Chilean endemics N. alessandrii and N. macrocarpa are listed as Endangered and N. glauca is listed as Vulnerable. N. rutila from Chile is not a widely accepted taxon, but needs more research to determine its taxonomic and conservation status.
The island of New Guinea is the centre of diversity for Nothofagus. It is home to 14 species of across Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, of which three are Critically Endangered; N. nuda, N. stylosa and N. womersleyi and N. crenata is listed as Vulnerable. All Critically Endangered species are known from only one locality and urgent conservation action is needed.
Thirteen species of Nothofagus are found across Oceania; five from New Zealand, two from Australia, two from Tasmania and five from New Caledonia. Both N. baumanniae and N. discoidea from New Caledonia are listed as Endangered, and N. cunninghammii from Australia is listed as Vulnerable.