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Working to save E. latifrons

Discussion in 'Cycad Conservation Projects' started by Craig, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. Craig

    Craig Member

    May 30, 2016
    Likes Received:
    This is a really good read if you're interested in cycad conservation, and you really should be :smile:

    The Albany Cycad (Encephalartos latifrons) is endemic to the Bathurst region in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List (Donaldson, 2003) and on the draft list of threatened and protected species, drafted in terms of Section 56(1) of South Africa’s National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act, 10 of 2004. In addition, all species of Encephalartos are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Appendix I listed species are the most threatened of the CITES-listed animals and plants and face an imminent threat of extinction due to trade. CITES prohibits commercial international trade in wild collected specimens of these species, with exemptions for conservation related activities, such as scientific research or artificial propagation. While CITES imposes restrictions on international trade of cultivated specimens, the key threat to E. latifrons stems from the domestic level through illegal harvesting and domestic trade. Even though the Albany Cycad has been afforded the maximum legal national protection, the species is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. This is exacerbated by infrequent coning and great distances between plants, therefore natural pollination no longer occurs. For several decades now, no evidence exists of natural recruitment or viable seed production in the wild. In the past, agriculture presented a severe threat to the survival of this species due to the ongoing conversion of suitable habitat, but the predominant threat to its continuing existence today is illegal collecting.

    Between 60 and 100 individual E. latifrons remain in the wild with none of thee plants located within formally protected areas. In response to the need for an urgent national conservation strategy for the Albany Cycad, a workshop was held in July 2006 to assess the viability of the current population and to determine actions for the species recovery and ongoing conservation. The workshop was facilitated by the IUCN (World Conservation Union’s) Conservation Breeding Specialist Group Southern Africa (CBSG SA) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and funded by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation with endorsement from the Department of Economic Affairs, Environment and Tourism (DEAET) of the Eastern Cape Government.

    The CBSG utilises a series of scientifically-based tools to undertake risk assessment and species management decision-making. The Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) process is one such tool, which uses population and conservation biology, human demography and the dynamics of social learning in intensive, problem-solving workshops to produce realistic and achievable recommendations for more effective wildlife and habitat management.

    Outcomes from this PHVA workshop include recommendations around the development and implementation of a supplementation programme to create conditions required for selfreproducing populations (supplementation will include confiscated plants and seedlings). Research will also be undertaken to better determine the distribution of wild populations, the impact of harvesting cycad bark for traditional use and the market and demand for plants. A national audit on seedlings produced in nurseries and private collections will also be conducted. A Cycad Forum is to be established to facilitate the implementation of the conservation and management plan and provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to raise concerns and continue discussions on species conservation issues.

    As part of the workshop process, input was given into the Eastern Cape policy on propagation and sustainable utilisation of E. latifrons, and details of the suggested changes to the policy and the way forward for Albany Cycad conservation are provided in Section 4.

    Read more here: http://www.cbsg.org/sites/cbsg.org/files/documents/Albany Cycad PHVA Report.pdf

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