Euryodendron excelsum is a large subtropical tree endemic to China and listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List. Historically, it was distributed throughout Bajia Zhen, Yangchun County, Guangdong Province, Siwang Cun, Pingnan County, Linlu Xiang, Bama County and Guangxi Zhuang. Recent and exhaustive surveys show that in two sites in Guangxi Province the tree appears to be locally extinct.
Extensive investigation in 2007 found 179 individuals in Bajia Zhen (23 of which were mature) growing in secondary forests adjoining local villages where disruptive human activities are frequent. However, now only a single population of approximately 40 individuals can be found in an isolated and fragmented distribution pattern across Bajia Zhen, leaving this species very vulnerable to becoming extinct in the wild if action is not taken.
In addition to being categorised as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List, E. excelsum is ranked as a second-class endangered and protected species in China as a result of extensive deforestation, it is also listed a species with an extremely small population by the Conservation Program for Wild Plants with Extremely Small Populations in China and is thus subject to national protection.
The very small remaining population is now only found in an extremely isolated and fragmented distribution pattern at Bajia Zhen, while agricultural activities and development risk the future survival of this species. There are further obstacles to conservation efforts to save this tree from extinction, including low germination rate and difficulty raising seedlings to the adult stage. However, studies have shown that other propagating methods such as air layering and cuttings are more successful, techniques that this project will hopefully refine for greater success.
This project will involve local agricultural biotechnology companies in conservation actions. Ten thousand free seedlings, comprising 3,000 of E. excelsum and 7,000 of its associated species, will be provided within the 5 year project. In addition to this, community members will be trained in cultivation and reintroduction techniques. This tree is highly valued in the landscaping industry due to its ornamental qualities, and as such a contract has been created between all parties involved in the project to ensure the distribution of any economic gain between all stakeholders. This will also aid in the development of beautiful villages and resource protection. Furthermore, the economy for local farmers and companies will benefit thanks to other species associated with this project.