Threatened Trees

A wide variety of tree species covers the globe—and an estimated 10,000 of these are in danger of extinction due to over-harvesting, habitat loss, and the effects of climate change.

Though many types of trees provide cultural, economic, and ecological value, too few threatened species are subject to targeted conservation action. In response, we are developing new partnerships to increase awareness of and capacity to effectively protect trees. We focus on conserving at-risk trees and restoring forests in our priority landscapes, building partnerships to reduce pressures and increase engagement for tree and forest conservation. Current priorities include the Trees of Belize Project and Delaware’s Great Cypress Swamp.

Lack of botanical information – especially species identity – is a threat to preventing extinction of tree species.

Trees of Belize Project

Belize’s tropical forests thrive in the heart of the Selva Maya, the largest remaining rainforest block in Mesoamerica. Despite having close to 60% of its land under forest cover and the lowest population density in Central America, Belize is growing and modernizing quickly. Pressures on forests and trees targeted for extraction are intensifying as a result. A key constraint to effectively addressing these pressures is a lack of botanical information and capacity, which impedes management and protection.

Belize has over 1,300 tree species yet lacks a comprehensive field guide. The Trees of Belize Project is a multi-year effort dedicated to growing and cultivating in-country expertise and interest in botany. Directed by botanist Dr. Steven Brewer, the project design reflects many years of collaborative botanic work and a shared belief that trees remain enigmatic because of the lack of accessible information, identification tools, and training for such a diverse flora.

To remedy this, the project will focus on building skills to identify, locate, and assess Belize’s tree species. This will involve collaboration with many different organizations and individuals, and ultimately result in the creation of a comprehensive field guide, The Trees of Belize.

View images of the trees of Belize by Dr. Steven Brewer:

Delaware’s Great Cypress Swamp

Launching our newest partnership in the United States, we have joined forces with statewide land trust Delaware Wild Lands to accelerate restoration of the 10,600-acre Great Cypress Swamp. This is a vitally important forested wetland and a critical part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Together with Delaware Wild Lands, we are planting more than 12,000 Atlantic white cedar and bald cypress trees, native species that have been reduced to a fraction of their original extent. In our early season botanical surveys, we discovered new species for the Swamp, demonstrating the importance of further research and protection of this vital landscape.

The Great Cypress Swamp is also a key area for migratory birds along the Atlantic flyway, illustrating connections across our program areas: neotropical migratory birds like the prothonotary warbler rely on forests in Belize and Delaware’s Great Cypress Swamp.

View images from the Great Cypress Swamp by Dr. Steven Brewer: