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Conservation of species

Worldwide, over 9.600 tree species are threatened with extinction (see:

A number of major world organisations such as BGCI (Botanic Gardens Conservation International), FFI (Fauna and Flora International) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) take international initiatives to prevent species from becoming extinct. In order to reach this goal, they rely on a network of countries, governments, organisations and people.

Botanical gardens from all over the world are part of this network. Each one from its own angle and with its own specialisation. Arboretum Wespelaar contributes by planting many (threatened) shrubs and trees from wild origin. Scientists agree that this is important because it allows plants, which are threatened in their own natural habitat, to survive elsewhere, and for their genetic information to be preserved. This is called ex-situ conservation, or the conservation of species outside of their natural habitat. The priority of many conservation programs lies in in-situ protection and conservation but sometimes this is insufficient.

Our database shows in detail which plants are from wild origin. This can also be seen on the plant labels in the Arboretum: depending on the type of label, ‘WLD’ or ‘Wild Origin’ is mentioned.

We currently have 209 Red List species in our collection of trees and shrubs: see our list (and also see: IUCN Red List). This Red List gives information about threatened species and indirectly also about the state of biodiversity – the diversity of all living plants and animals on earth. The species are divided in various levels of threat criteria. In Arboretum Wespelaar, we have:

  • 1 species in the category 'extinct in the wild': a taxon known to only survive in cultivation or as a naturalized population well outside of its past range (Franklinia alatamaha)
  • 4 species in the category 'critically endangered': a taxon that meets any of the criteria for Critically Endangered and is therefore facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. (for example: Torreya taxifolia, Magnolia zenii)
  • 25 species in the category 'endangered': a taxon that meets any of the criteria for Endangered and is therefore considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild (for example: Fitzroya cupressoides, Picea martinezii)
  • 34 species in the category 'vulnerable' : a taxon that meets any of the criteria for Vulnerable and is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild (for example Davidia involucrata var. vilmoriniana, Pseudotsuga sinensis)
  • 20 species in the category ‘near threatened’: a taxon that has been evaluated but does not currently meet the criteria to be qualified as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable but is close to qualifying or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future (for example Cryptomeria japonica, Tsuga canadensis)
  • 11 species in the category 'lower risk, near threatened' (Dipteronia sinensis, Leitneria floridana)
  • 0 species in the category 'lower Risk: Conservation Dependent' (Betula browicziana)
  • 100 species in the category 'least Concern': a taxon has been evaluated and does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened. This category covers widespread and abundant taxa (Diospyros lotus, Microbiota decussata)
  • 8 species in the category 'lower Risk: Least Concern' (Euonymus grandiflorus, Quercus macrocarpa)
  • (8 species in the category 'data deficient')

The risk of extinction of a species and the level of threat are determined by the speed at which the number of specimens decreases, by the rarity and dispersion of the species. These criteria are used on all species worldwide. Every year, we send our data to BGCI, who process them. This way, our plants and their information are available to scientists.

If you want to learn more about the red listed trees at Arboretum Wespelaar, we suggest you make this walk along 10 red listed trees. The map will help you to locate these 10 trees. All red listed trees at Arboretum Wespelaar are marked by a "Red List" label, attached to the base label of the tree.



Plantcol - Belgian Plant Collections

The PLANTCOL project highlights the wonderful splendour of Belgium's plant collections and leads the world in presenting this information to a worldwide public.

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