China has a special importance for those who love and study trees, since it is the home of so many species. For example, of the world’s 129 maple species, 99 hail from China. Of 50 kinds of fir, 21 are Chinese. The southwestern mountains are an especially valuable “biodiversity hotspot,” reported Vice President of Science and Conservation Nicole Cavender in a recent talk, because so many varied species have evolved there.
In addition to visiting 17 Chinese institutions throughout China in April and November, Arboretum executives attended the annual meetings of the Chinese Association of Botanic Gardens in Chongqing and the International Association of Botanical Gardens in Guangzhou, where Arboretum President and CEO Gerard Donnelly was elected to its board. The Arboretum also signed an agreement with the Hunan Forestry Botanical Garden in Changsha and is pursuing agreements with four other botanical gardens to work on tree conservation.
Efforts are aimed at forming partnerships with Chinese scientists, gardens, and government officials to build their own capacity to preserve tree species. They understand the importance of tree species conservation, Cavender says, and they welcome collaboration to accomplish the goal. The Arboretum, which has 700 taxa and 1570 accessions from China on its own grounds that, has expertise to offer and worldwide connections and influence that can help the Chinese develop their own programs.
“The Morton Arboretum is currently working towards building a stronger global tree conservation strategy,” says Cavender, “and we will continue to work with Chinese gardens and BGCI to help meet the goals for the Global Trees Campaign and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.”