CWR In Situ Strategy Helpdesk

National CWR flora methodology

Step 4: Identification of threats to priority CWR taxa and important CWR areas

As well as assessing threat in relation to individual CWR taxa (in order to assist prioritization for conservation), there is also a need to assess threat in relation to conservation planning (i.e., to identify those important CWR areas most likely to be threatened). In terms of threat assessment for taxa, the IUCN Red List Criteria (IUCN, 2001) have recently been applied by Cheffings (2004) for all the taxa included in the New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora (Preston et al., 2002a). Thirteen of the UK’s CWR taxa have been assessed as threatened: Apium repens (Jacq.) Lag. and Valerianella rimosa Bastard are Critically Endangered; Lactuca saligna L., Allium sphaerocephalon L. and Pyrus cordata Desv. are Endangered; Scorzonera humilis L., Trifolium bocconei Savi, Trifolium incarnatum subsp. molinerii (Balb. ex Hornem.) Ces, Trifolium strictum L., Asparagus officinalis subsp. prostratus (Dumort.) Corb., Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers., Festuca longifolia Thuill. and Poa flexuosa Sm. are Vulnerable; and Bromus interruptus (Hackel) Druce is Extinct in the Wild. Only one UK CWR species is currently covered by international obligations for its protection—Apium repens L., which is listed in the EU Habitats Directive, Annexes IIb and IVb, under the Bern Convention Annex II and under CITES Appendix II. However, all wild plants are protected by law in the United Kingdom—under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to uproot any plant without permission from the landowner or occupier. Active conservation measures, such as Biodiversity Action Plans exist for three taxa: Apium repens L., Asparagus officinalis subsp. prostratus (Dumort.) Corb and Valerianella rimosa Bastard.

Among the region’s or country’s important CWR areas there is a twofold requirement: first, to focus conservation effort in areas least threatened by such factors as changes in cultivation practices, civil strife, habitat fragmentation, over-exploitation, over-grazing, competition from exotic invasive species, increased urbanization and of course climate change, so that the sites selected maximize long-term sustainability; and second, where there is a real prospect of genetic erosion or extinction of CWR taxa, to eliminate or minimize the threats to CWR taxa and ensure the CWR taxonomic and genetic diversity located in the area is adequately represented in ex situ collections. This involves some form of comparative assessment of the various putative causative factors of genetic erosion in important CWR areas, possibly by application of some form of scoring technique like that proposed by Guarino (1995) for genetic erosion assessment of taxa.

Step 5: CWR gap analysis

Helpdesk references