In 2010, the Botanic Garden of the University of Fribourg (BGF, Switzerland), in collaboration with the Natural History Museum Fribourg (NHMF, Switzerland) and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI, United Kingdom), initiated an interdisciplinary project to undertake the scientific review and coordinated conservation actions on relict, rare and threatened woody species, with a main focus on the relict tree genus Zelkova (Ulmaceae). Further research partners joined Project Zelkova during the past years (see under Partners) forming today an international network of ca. 20 institutions from ca. 10 countries worldwide.
During October 2017, an expedition was carried out, in order to document both subspecies of Juglans jamaicensis, two of the most endangered and extraordinary members of the Juglandaceae family. With the help of local guides and forest specialists, we discovered an astonishing biodiversity and some small populations of J. jamaicensis in Viñales National Park in the west, and in the Escambray Mountains in the center of the island. Juglans jamaicensis is very scattered and needs urgent conservation action programs both in situ and ex situ.
In 2017, the Zelkova abelicea conservation project entered a new phase after the completion of the initial phase that ran from 2014-2016. During this second phase, the applied conservation actions and efforts were pursued and adapted. There are now over 30 fenced areas containing Z. abelicea individuals throughout all the mountains of Crete.
Xiaolong Mountain National Nature Reserve is located in the western part of the Qinling Mountains (Gansu province in Central China). In August 2017, an expedition took place, in order to explore the Pterocarya forests of this area. It was organized and coordinated by Yi-Gang Song, our PhD student at the University of Fribourg and at the Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden. Vast virgin forests with large pure Pterocarya hupehensis stands, have been found and studied during the expedition. Additionally, two further Pterocarya species (P. macroptera and P. stenoptera) have been observed in this area, mainly along rivers.
Between the 26th and 30th of June 2017 a workshop organized by our Zelkova-team took place in Switzerland, gathering the international partners and members of our research and conservation networks of Pterocarya and Zelkova. At the end of the meeting a symposium entitled “Mediterranean meets Eastern Asia – international and interdisciplinary cooperation in research and conservation of relict trees” took place at the Botanic Garden of the University of Fribourg in collaboration with the Natural History Museum Fribourg (NHMF). Invited speakers from Switzerland, Italy, Poland, China, Vietnam and Japan presented their research projects and conservation actions carried out in different countries and regions of Europe and Asia.
Vietnam is one of the main centers of species and genera diversity of the Juglandaceae family, with minimum 10 species representing 6 genera. In April 2017 our Zelkova-team organized a scientific expedition to Vietnam in order to explore and collect iconographic material of Juglandaceae of this fascinating country as well as to officially sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and the Vietnam National University of Forestry (VNUF).
Project Zelkova addresses five main objectives
- Basic and applied research on relict, rare and/or threatened woody species (biogeography, conservation biology, phylogeny, phylogeography, population genetics, population structure, dendrochronology, etc.).
- Conservation actions (in situ and ex situ conservation), action plans and conservation status assessments.
- Capacity building (teaching, internships, exchange of students and young scientists, etc.).
- Public awareness and outreach (exhibitions, books, workshops, etc.).
- Iconographic collections (scientific photography, scientific drawings, etc.)
PTEROCARYA & JUGLANDACEAE
Conservation biogeography of Pterocarya & Juglandaceae
Relict and threatened woody species of Azerbaijan
Relict trees of China, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan