Peru contains almost 10% of the world's plant species, but much of this diversity is both undocumented and threatened. In two projects funded by the Darwin Initiative, RBGE has helped to document and preserve this diversity, and improve the livelihoods of Peruvian people. More details can be found on the project website Darwin tree diversity
Tree diversity and agroforestry development in the Peruvian Amazon (Darwin Initiative 2000 - 2003)
The most important habitat, socio-economically and in terms of species-richness, is the rainforest of the Amazon Basin. The International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) is developing small-scale agroforestry systems using native tree species. These help to slow the destruction of virgin forest by slash and burn, conserve genetic resources of trees and improve the livelihoods of poor farmers. ICRAF surveyed farmers in the Peruvian Amazon to determine their preferred tree species for agroforestry, and compiled a list of 150 species that have potential for various agroforestry systems. Many of these tree species have not been scientifically identified, and are known only by their local names. We collected specimens of these species, compiled a database of information on their distribution, uses and ecology, and a Spanish language guide for their identification was published in 2003:
Reynel, C., Pennington, T.D., PENNINGTON, R.T., Daza, A., Flores, C. (2003). Arboles utiles de la Amazonia Peruana y sus usos. Tarea Graficia Educativa, Peru. 509 pp: illus b+w, 20 colour.
Tree diversity, agroforestry development and reafforestation in the Peruvian Andes (2004-2006)
Following our first project, we were awarded more funding under a new Darwin Intiative Post-Project Funding Scheme, which enables a small number of selected, successful Darwin Initiative projects to strengthen their long term impact and legacy. Our new work aimed to provide high quality biodiversity data on trees from the Peruvian Andes of potential importance in agroforestry systems and for reafforestation. We have recently published a Spanish language guide to the identification and propagation of 130 Andean tree species of economic potential:
Reynel, C., Pennington, T.D., PENNINGTON, R.T., Marcelo, J. & Daza, A. 2007. Arboles útiles del ande peruano (Useful Trees of the Peruvian Andes). Tarea Gráfica Educativa, Perú. c. 450 pp: illus 130 b+w, 20 colour.
Andean forests are highly threatened, and this project will help to raise their profile, stimulate reafforestation, and improve the livelihoods of resource poor-farmers.
Our partners in this project were the Herbarium of the National Agrarian University La Molina (MOL), Asociación Peruana para el Desarrolo Sostentible (APRODES) and Kew (RBG Kew). At MOL we mounted and databased the majority of MOL's herbarium specimens of forest trees. This database permits analyses of both species distribution patterns and the historical pattern of forest tree collection in Peru. It can thus guide conservation decisions, and set priorities for future field-based research in Peru. We repatriatiated to Peru specimen data and important literature from RBGE and RBG Kew that relates to Peruvian tree species. Our first project helped to build the infrastructure at MOL, and the new project built two teaching herbaria in the Chanchamayo region of the Andes. UK staff provided training to Peruvian scientists, technicians and students in herbarium curation, plant identification and taxonomy.
Inventory of Peruvian dry forests
RBGE's first work in Peru in 1998 was to carry out inventory in poorly known areas of seasonally dry forest. We have now carried out similar work in several of these areas. Funded by a Darwin Intiiative scholarship, Reynaldo Linares Palomino was based at RBGE from 2004-2005 compiling a checklist of Peruvian dry forest woody plants. During a recent six month sabbatical period in Peru, Toby Pennington and Peruvian collaborators carried out extensive fieldwork in Andean dry forests with the aim to develop the checklist and investigate patterns of diversity and endemism. In 2012, further inventory work was achieved with support of the NERC funded project "Niche Evolution of South American trees and its consequences".
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
20a Inverleith Row
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Direct Line: (+ 44) (0) 020 8332 5234
Fax: (+ 44) (0) 020 8332 5279
Herbario Forestal MOL
Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina
Lima 1 - Perú
Telephone: (+511) 349 5647 Anex 203 / 244
Fax: (+511) 349 20 41