Alarming rates of deforestation and ecosystem degradation add to global warming, and sustainable management of forests is therefore an important part of the REDD concept. REDD activities shall both reduce CO2 emissions, conserve biodiversity and secure future livelihoods for local populations. The present project aims at increasing the conservation value of REDD programmes by testing positive and easy applicable tools for planning and monitoring based on novel biodiversity assessment methods. The project targets Dalbergias - valuable, highly vulnerable timer species becoming increasingly rare due to illegal logging and habitat degradation. A strategy for sustainable use and management of Dalbergia is needed as a part of overall forest conservation strategy in Cambodia and adjacent countries. Building on a larger on-going study of diversity and evolutionary potential in natural Dalbergia populations, this project will develop and test applications of novel biodiversity assessment tools for identifying areas and populations especially vulnerable to future climate change. Further, the project will test the use of DNA fingerprinting methods to monitor the exact species identity and geographic origin of traded timber. This can be an operation tool suitable for use in global certification schemes and/or FLEGT programmes.
Brief popularized abstract:
A high number of tropical tree species is threatened with extinction due to deforestation and unsustainable levels of logging, and the implementation of effective conservation plans is often hindered by the lack of basic knowledge. This study used molecular genetic tools to analyze the region-wide population genetic diversity for two threatened timber species in Indochina, D. cochinchinensis and D. oliveri. We found that both species are highly capable of reproducing clonally, which means that effective population size is than smaller than expected, and that both species can resprout from stumps left from logging. Both species showed a high level of differentiation among populations from different regions, indicating limited levels of gene flow as well as local adaptation. The high level of geographic variation detected with the molecular markers make these excellent as tools for inferring the origin of traded timber. The obtained results have provided the basis for proposing guidelines for future conservation and management plans for D. cochinchinensis and D. oliveri and the molecular markers and reference database can be used to implement a forensic timber tracking tool.