Overview of Magnolia, its conservation status and ex situ collections


Botanic Gardens Conservation International

To date, 305 wild magnolia species from around the world have been assessed to determine their conservation status as a basis to inform and prioritise conservation action. The assessments have been carried out using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, internationally recognised and widely used to classify species at risk of extinction. The results published by Botanic Gardens Conservation International in the revised and extended Red List of Magnoliaceae (2016) are alarming: nearly half (48%) of all magnolia species assessed are threatened with extinction in the wild and are found to be either Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. While the Old World is home to the greatest diversity in magnolia species, the Neotropics hold the highest proportion (75%) of threatened magnolias. Logging, habitat conversion to agriculture and livestock farming present significant factors in the global decline of magnolias, alongside over-collection in the wild and the impacts of climate change. However, in situ information for almost a third of Magnolia species is either imperfect or lacking (Data Deficient) to enable an accurate conservation assessment, indicating the urgent need for further data collection and analyses. Ex situ strategies can act as a vital means to fulfill a wider and integrated conservation mission for ultimate species recovery in situ. The ex situ survey carried out as part of the efforts to assess the conservation status of Magnoliaceae, reports on how many species are presently in collections in botanic gardens, arboreta and seed banks. Although considerable progress has been made in recent years, less than half (43%) of threatened magnolia species are represented in ex situ collections. The Red List of Magnoliaceae is part of the Global Tree Assessment (GTA), an initiative led by BGCI and the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group. The GTA aims to assess the conservation status of all tree species by 2020, in order to guide conservation action priorities. A number of practical conservation projects for highly threatened magnolias have been or continue to be implemented within the framework of the Global Trees Campaign (GTC). A joint conservation initiative between BGCI and Fauna & Flora International, the GTC aims to secure the future of the world’s most threatened trees, through collaborative initiatives with in-country experts and conservationists. Project partners carry out field surveys to monitor species distribution and population trends, advocate with governments to create protected areas to safeguard threatened magnolias and their habitats, engage with local communities to raise awareness of the threats to wild species, and provide training in conservation techniques. These efforts enhance the integration of ex and in situ conservation, by encouraging the creation of collections in botanic gardens and arboreta as a back-up against their extinction, combined with population reinforcement and reintroduction programmes in the wild.