"The reality is that training local students is the most important element of any long-term conservation effort in the developing world."
These are the passionate words of Martin Gardner, RBGE's expert in the flora of Chile.
Globally, a number of conifer species are threatened with extinction. Threats to their native habitats include logging, uncontrolled forest fires, open-cast mining, and conversion of forests to pasture and arable land. The International Conifer Conservation Programme (ICCP), established in 1991, aims to protect these threatened species and their habitats through research, horticulture and training in the UK and abroad.
Catherine Olver was a well-known dendrologist and founder of the Reading Tree Club. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for trees was unsurpassed and, having travelled to Chile, she became very interested in the flora and its conservation. Thanks to the generous legacy she left the project in 2004, the ICCP has been able to establish an endowment dedicated to the conservation of Chilean plants and training programmes for Chilean students. Catherine's financial contribution is ensuring that her passion for conservation continues to make a positive impact today.
Funding from this legacy has enabled Carlos Zamorano to travel to the institute ECOSUR, Chiapas, Mexico, in order to study for a Masters Degree in Natural Resources and Rural Development. This course will enable him to develop projects in Chile which work with the poorer landowners in order to help them manage their forests in a sustainable way. He is currently doing his Masters project on the conservation of threatened Chilean monkey puzzle trees and the indigenous people who depend on these forest habitats.