Parashorea chinensis is a very large tropical tree found in China and northern Vietnam. In China, the tree is distributed in western Guangxi (Bama, Longzhou, Napo regions) and southern and southeastern Yunnan Province (Hekou and Mengla regions). The tree was first found in the Xishuangbanna area of Yunnan Province. The only remaining concentrated populations are in Mengla and Xishuangbanna where only 16 individuals are distributed in a very restricted area. In Hekou this species is mostly distributed in the limestone area of Nanxi in seasonal rainforest which has a rich biodiversity, including 10 threatened species. Studies in the wild have revealed that in virgin forest this species struggles to reach maturity – one of the reasons for its poor natural regeneration. These factors have resulted in this species being listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List.
Parashorea chinensis is only distributed in south and southeast of Yunnan, southwest of Guangxi, with a small distribution area of about 20 km2. Like most members of the genus Dipterocarpaceae the wood of this tree is an attractive brownish-yellow, fine-grained, hard and very durable and is used for numerous applications. One reason for the poor natural regeneration of this species is that its seeds are extremely recalcitrant and the trees exhibit a low seed setting rate, low germination rate and its seedlings are very slow growing in the wild. Development and the over-exploitation of its timber are the main threats to this species which are compounded by the now small population making it a first-class national protected plant in China.
Funding for this project will allow for urgent survey and monitoring work to examine the true extent of the remaining populations of P. chinensis. From here work will begin to propagate and reintroduce more than 1000 individuals of this species and more than 10,000 individuals of related species into ecological restoration sites. Once established, these restoration sites will be used as bases for scientific education. In order to enhance public engagement with the protection of this species, ecological restoration and other threatened species popular science programmes will be carried out.