The New York Botanical Garden has established a major program to conserve Amazonian trees. Perhaps it will help alleviate that sinking feeling I get every time I see a landscape design using lots of Amazon hardwoods, the reason being the photo above, showing deforestation in Brazil.
Program director Douglas Daly, who's been studying Amazon flora for more than three decades, said a key factor in preserving the Amazon is the proper identification of trees. "The accurate assessment of the region's biodiversity, including the correct identification of tree species, has profound implications for the fate of the forests, from sustainable management to estimates of the carbon that is locked in the trees -- or released as greenhouse gases by deforestation," he said.
Working with Brazilian scientists, the NYBG will take an inventory of Amazonian trees, as they currently estimate that 50 to 70 percent of tree species in the region have been misidentified. They will also train Brazilian forest workers in proper tree ID; develop long-term programs to preserve knowledge of Amazonian resources; and expand research in southwestern Amazonia, where forests are severely threatened by new development, including agriculture, mining, and hydroelectric projects.
The Amazon watershed covers in excess of two million square miles and is home to at least 40,000 species of trees, ferns, and flowering plants. And despite new settlements and deforestation, it is still the world's largest forest, with more than 16,000 species of trees alone.
The project is supported by a major grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, with previous support from the Beneficia Foundation, the JRS Biodiversity Foundation, the Overbrook Foundation and the Tinker Foundation.