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Environment: As magnolias bloom our gardens, spare a thought for their endangered cousins in the wild
 

As magnolias bloom our gardens, spare a thought for their endangered cousins in the wild


Though magnolias are blooming across the UK right now, many people don’t realise that nearly half the world’s magnolias species are facing the very real threat of extinction.


[UKPRwire, Wed Apr 01 2009] Magnolias are blooming in British gardens but experts at Fauna and Flora International (FFI) today warn that nearly HALF of the world’s magnolia species are now threatened with extinction.

A massive 112 of the 245 known species of wild magnolia around the world are dying out. These ancient plants, which evolved before bees appeared, are disappearing due to habitat loss and over-exploitation for timber and traditional medicine.

Often described as the aristocrats of the plant world, magnolias produce large, beautiful flowers, but in the wild they are used as a source of timber, food and medicine for local communities.

Dr Georgina Magin, Global Trees Campaign coordinator with FFI, said:

"Sadly almost half the known species of magnolia are now threatened with extinction. Most magnolias take a long time to start flowering and until then they are not reproducing, which means they are very vulnerable to over-exploitation. Without urgent action many of these gems of the forest could be lost forever."

Magnolias are among the most ancient groups of flowering plants and have been cultivated by mankind for centuries. Some specimens growing in Chinese temples are believed to be 800 years old and they are still very popular as ornamental plants in gardens.

About two thirds of magnolia species are found in Asia, with more than 40% of these in southern China. Almost half of all wild Chinese magnolias are now at risk of extinction. One species, Magnolia sinica, is reduced to just 50 trees in the wild.

The remaining species are found in North and South America, where they are also dying out.

The Global Trees Campaign, a joint partnership between FFI and Botanic Gardens Conservation International, has been working to conserve some of these wild species.

Over the past two years they have been working with partners in Yunnan Province in southern China to increase the wild population of Magnolia sinica. They have already planted 400 nursery-grown saplings in a nature reserve and these are now being tended.

This is providing a much-needed life-line for this endangered species. Survival rates appear to be high so far and it is hoped this project could be used as a model to restore more of these glorious species in their natural habitats.


ENDS


About the Global Trees Campaign (http://www.globaltrees.org)
The Global Trees Campaign, a partnership between Fauna & Flora International, Botanic Gardens Conservation International and many other organisations around the world, aims to save threatened tree species through provision of information, conservation action and support for sustainable use.


About Fauna & Flora International (FFI) (www.fauna-flora.org)
FFI protects threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science and take account of human needs. Operating in more than 40 countries worldwide – mainly in the developing world – FFI saves species from extinction and habitats from destruction, while improving the livelihoods of local people. Founded in 1903, FFI is the world’s longest established international conservation body and a registered charity.

For an interview with Georgina Magin please contact:

Rebecca Foges
Communications Officer
Fauna & Flora International
Tel: +44 1223 579491
Email: rebecca.foges@fauna-flora.org

Free-to-use photos of rare magnolia species are available upon request.

Download the latest Red List of Magnoliaceae here:
http://www.fauna-flora.org/docs/ffibgcimagnoliareport.pdf

NB The IUCN Red List website is not currently up to date on magnolias.









Company: Fauna & Flora International
Contact Name: Rebecca Foges, Communications Officer, Fauna & Flora International
Contact Email: rebecca.foges@fauna-flora.org
Contact Phone: +44 1223 579 491
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