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Global Conservation Consortium for Rhododendron

Rhododendrons are stunning horticultural plants widely cultivated in temperate regions. They are associated with centres of diversity in the mountains of SW China, the Himalaya and in South East Asia, where they form important components of montane ecosystems. Rhododendrons underpin livelihoods, food security and health care of local communities in their natural habitats. However, due largely to clearing land for agriculture, livestock grazing, and the impact of climate change, many of these beautiful plants are at risk of extinction. Forty-five species of Rhododendron are considered Critically Endangered, with only a few individuals remaining in the wild.

A Global Conservation Consortium for Rhododendron

To address this, the Global Conservation Consortium for Rhododendron (GCCR) has been established to bring together the world’s Rhododendron experts, conservationists and the botanic garden community. Established by BGCI in 2018 and led by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, it comprises experts from 16 institutions across 13 countries, including botanic gardens with diverse Rhododendron collections in Europe, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, along with botanical institutions in the centres of Rhododendron diversity in China, India, Nepal, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. They work together to achieve the following objectives:

  • Establish and foster a network of experts in target groups to participate in Consortium activities
  • Identify and prioritize species of greatest conservation concern (building on the outputs of the GTA) and plan conservation action for target groups
  • Establish and manage coordinated ex situ collections of high conservation value to support in situ action
  • Undertake and facilitate applied research (e.g. conservation biology, population genetics, taxonomy)
  • Ensure that threatened species are conserved in situ
  • Build capacity to empower and mobilize in-country partners in centres of diversity to act for target species in these areas
  • Increase public awareness and engagement in tree conservation
  • Raise funding to scale up conservation action for target groups