CONIFER AND PALM CONSERVATION

The island of Hispaniola has a number of species and varieties of conifers and palms threatened with extinction. Besides Hispaniolan pine (Pinus occidentalis) and some of the most common palm, such as the royal (Roystonea borinquena) and cana palms (Sabal), very little is known about their status, especially of the most rare ones. Most are threatened due to habitat destruction or degradation and overexploitation. 

 

Thanks to a grant from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), along with IUCN, we are assessing the status of: 1) Three conifer species, with special attention to junipers (Juniperus gracilior) and podocarps (Podocarpus buchii), and 2) Thirteen palm species.  Our goal is to develop conservation action plans and update the Vascular Plant Red List of the Dominican Republic aand the IUCN´s Red List.

Sierra de Bahourco serves as a refuge to many palms and conifers of Hispaniola. Photo: Oscar Maldonado

Where

This project focuses on the Dominican Republic´s  side of the “Massif de la Selle- Jaragua -Bahoruco-Enriquillo Binational Corredor” defined in the Ecosystem Profile for the Caribbean Biodiversity Hotspot, located in southern Hispaniola (in red on the map). This area is also a  Transboundary Biosphere Reserva designated by UNESCO. Hispaniola is the second largest island in the Caribbean, and it is shared between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

 

Importance

Palms and conifers are very appreciated around the world, whether from the economic vlaue of their wood, its leaves or as ornamental plants. Also, many have aromatic and medicinal properties. Often, their fruits and seeds are food for fauna (especially birds), which help disperse them, thus maintaining natural forest diversity in Hispaniola. Their trunk serves often as a nesting cavity, especially for Hispaniolan Parrots, a vulnerable species to extinction.

seeds and fruits of Podocarpus buchii
Hispaniolan parrot nest inside a palm
Ekman´s cherry palm
leaves of Podocarpus buchii

Threats

Unfortunately, the loss and dregradation of their habitats due to farming, fires and their unsustainable use threatens with extinction many of theses magnificent species. Through conservation action planning, we hope to assess every threat so we can target it strategically. For this, we have teamed up wih local and international experts including IUCN´s Conservation Planning Speciliast Group.

 

cut palm for its sap in Jaragua National Park
forest fire in El Guanal, Jaragua Natl Park
cut palm to widen horse trail in Jaragua Natl Park
ilegal farming in Sierra de Bahoruco Natl Park


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