Posted on 20 February 2019
The Red List of Nothofagus was published by BGCI in December 2018 and revealed that 30% of all Nothofagus species are threatened with extinction. The Nothofagaceae family is made up of 37 species, all in the genus Nothofagus. The report assessed all 37 species in this genus, and 11 of these were found to be at risk of extinction.
Nothofagus, more commonly known as ‘false beech’ or ‘southern beech’, are deciduous and evergreen forest trees only found in the Southern Hemisphere where they are the major component of many forests. The widespread distribution and excellent fossil and pollen record of Nothofagus has meant that this genus has been a key group for biogeographic research in the Southern Hemisphere. Many species were historically important sources of timber and are still harvested for this purpose to this day.
This report identified that the greatest threat to Nothofagus, affecting two-thirds of all species, is deforestation and wood harvesting. Other threats include plantation and agricultural expansion, pests and diseases and climate change. Twenty species were found to be held in botanic gardens, arboreta or seed bank collections but this does not include all threatened species. This will now become a conservation priority for the group, offering the most at risk species a lifeline into the future.
Read The Red List of Nothofagus here.