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Integrated conservation of the unique flora of the Zhoushan Archipelago, China

BGCI China has recently initiated a project in the Zhoushan Archipelago. In collaboration with the College of Life Sciences & Institute of Ecology of Zhejian University, this project will carry out floristic investigation of Huaniao Island. The project will also involve integrated conservation of threatened and endemic plant species, restoration of degraded ecosystems, and survey and management of invasive species. The project will inform study of the impact of global environmental change on island ecosystems and raise local awareness of the unique diversity of the islands and the need for conservation.

The Zhoushan Archipelago is located in the East China Sea to the south of the Yangtse River mouth. It is made up of 1390 land-bridge islands with a total land area of 1439 km2. These islands were formed by sea level rise in the late Quaternary glacial period, the islands used to be the main range of the Tiantai Mountains in eastern Zhejiang stretching northeastward into the East China Sea, and are mostly hill-shaped with maximum height <250m a.s.l..

This project will focus on Huaniao Island - "Flower and Bird Island" in English. This island is located in the northeast extreme of the Shengshi Islands range (121̊ 30'~123̊ 25'E, 30̊ 24'~31̊ 04'N) which makes up part of the Zhoushan Archipelago. Huaniao Island is 3.7km in length and 0.96 km in width, with an area of 3.59 km2 and a population of approximately 2400.

A key species focus of this project is the Critically Endangered tree species Carpinus putoensis. This species is endemic to Putuo Island, also in the Zhoushou Archipelago, with only one remaining wild individual. This remaining individual is growing on the back of Huiji Temple. An area of one hectare (near situ conservation site) was established at Fodingshan on Putuo Island to conserve this species and around 79 individuals were cultivated, which are now around 30 years old. Zhoushan Institute of Foresty established a nursery and an ex situ conservation base behind the institute where about 20 plants are growing.

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Monday, June 23, 2014