The international environmental organization Haiti National Trust announced Thursday that a team of researchers rediscovered in the mountains of northern Haiti a species of magnolia that botanists believed had been extinct for nearly 97 years.
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It is the magnolia emarginata, endemic to Haiti and discovered in 1925 by scientific expeditions, but since then it had not been seen again due to the disappearance of the Morne Colombo forest, where the species grew, as a result of deforestation.
Since then, the plant was considered in danger of extinction and became part of the red list of threatened species, prepared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, acronym in English).
The Dominican conservation researcher and photographer, Eladio Fernández, led the expedition that made the discovery in a forest located 700 meters high in the Macizo del Norte, the longest mountain range in Haiti. The team was made up of three scientists and two local guides.
“This rediscovery serves as a beacon of hope for Haiti’s biodiversity. Despite the grim state of the country’s degraded forests, it still harbors species like this that are not found anywhere else in the world, giving us the opportunity to save them,” Fernández told local Dominican media.
The team of researchers identified at least 16 flowering magnolia trees and several growing ones, from which samples were obtained for DNA study. The inaccessible location of the plants and the distrust of the inhabitants of the region in the presence of scientists were factors that put the success of the expedition at risk.
A team of @haititrust A retrouvé dans les montagnes du nord d’Haïti – a country three affected by deforestation – a species of magnolia that botanists avaient lost the trace after 97 years. ���������������� �������������������� ��
— Marie-France Lemaine (@Mefel)
August 4, 2022
“The chances of finding this tree were one in a million,” said Fernandez, who announced that the Haiti National Trust intends to return to the region in the fall to collect seeds, and thus start a conservation project for the species.
Currently, Haiti’s forest area is estimated at one percent, so many endemic botanical species survive on mountain tops and inaccessible areas.
Three species of magnolias coexist in the Caribbean country: the domingsensis, which it shares with the Dominican Republic, the ekmanii, and the recently rediscovered emarginata.
Disclaimer: Via Telesur – Translated by RJ983
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