The International Conifer Conservation Programme is conserving endangered conifer trees from Morocco in a park in North Berwick, Scotland.
Rabat – The International Conifer Conservation Programme is conserving endangered conifer trees from Morocco in a park in North Berwick, Scotland. The species is the rare Moroccan cypress (the scientific name being Cedrus atlantica) from a valley in the High Atlas Mountains.
The initiative to save the trees is a partnership between the Scottish organizations East Lothian Council, North Berwick in Bloom, and the International Conifer Conservation Programme (ICCP), which is based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The ICCP conserves conifers as they “are among the world’s most threatened groups of plants yet contain some of the world’s most ecologically and economically important species.”
Conifers, Latin for “the one that bears a cone,” are of great economic value for softwood lumber, paper, and plastic production. The softwood derived from conifers provides about 45% of the world’s annual lumber production. Some conifers also provide foods such as pine nuts and also Juniper berries, which are used to flavor gin.
Threats to the species include exploitation, agriculture and forestry, climate change, and direct exploitation. The Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh says on its website dedicated to the trees, “Exploitation has increased over the last 50 years. Range-wide declines of up to 75% are estimated to have occurred between 1940 and 1982.”
A series of droughts, crown defoliation by processionary caterpillars, cedar bark stripping by Barbary Macaques, and damage by cedar bark beetles “seem to have exacerbated the recent decline.”
Recent studies have indicated that the current series of droughts are as intense as any that have occurred in the last thousand years. The Edinburgh Botanical Garden reports, “Projections for future climate change indicate a continued decrease in precipitation.”
Martin Gardiner, the ICCP coordinator, said: “Growing threatened trees such as these away from logging, forest fires and other threats they face in the wild is providing a valuable ‘safety net’ for the future survival of these species.
“This small area in the Lodge is an important demonstration of how trees are crucial to life on Earth and why it is important we all play a part in conserving them for future generations.”
Over the last 27 years, the ICCP has worked in more than 50 countries around the world, focussing on Chile, New Caledonia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, China, and other parts of Southeast Asia.