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2018 AZH Conservation Grant Winners

Ex-situ conservation of the recently rediscovered and Critically Endangered Malagasy plant Dracaena umbraculifera.
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

Currently most of the population of Dracaena umbraculifera grows in highly threatened, very tiny, unprotected forest fragments that will likely be destroyed in the next decade.  The goal of this project is to stop the imminent loss of genetic diversity of this spectacularly attractive plant by collecting and propagating seeds from several individuals in each of the three known wild sub-populations and conserving this diversity, ex-situ, as growing plants at Parc Ivoloina - a 282-hectare former forestry station on Madagascar’s east coast that is managed by the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group. Ultimately the plants of D. umbraculifera conserved at Parc Ivoloina would be used, in conjunction with many other native tree species, as part of restoration endeavors in the degraded landscapes from whence they originated.

Safeguarding imperiled orchid and carnivorous species of Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Irma and María in 2017.
Atlanta Botanical Garden

Increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters and extreme anthropogenic pressures are placing rare and threatened species with narrow geographic ranges under tremendous threat. Developed in collaboration with Christian W. Torres-Santana, Director of the Arboretum Parque Doña Inés this proposal aims to addresses the urgent need to protect key imperiled and threatened plants in Puerto Rico.

This proposal is part of a three phased project:
Phase 1 - wild seed collection for ex situ safeguarding, development of germination and propagation protocols for target species, and repatriation of these species to APDI.
Phase 2 - capacity building through workshop and training of Arboretum staff and establishment of tissue culture laboratory in Puerto Rico.
Phase 3 - development of plant material for in situ augmentation at identified protected sites, outplanting of plants and monitoring of natural populations.

Urban Prairies Project - Regional Partnerships for Restoration
The Butterfly Pavilion

Over the past several years the AZH has funded the Butterfly Pavilion’s (Colorado) Urban Prairie Project to restore short grass prairie in urban settings in the Denver metropolitan area. During this time they have developed expertise in developing partnerships with local governments and creating volunteer networks. Butterfly Pavilion and municipal staff perform site assessments, site preparation and revegetation, weed management, monitoring, and public education. For 2019 the project aims to:

  • Initiate restoration of 50 additional acres of short grass prairie
  • Establish 3 additional ‘seed reservoirs’ for cultivating native seed stock for further restoration projects
  • Train and mobilize 15 additional ‘Restoration Master Gardeners’
  • Involve 2 additional nearby communities in this project


Community based habitat restoration for the critically endangered Guatemalan beaded lizard (Heloderma charlesbogerti)
International Reptile Conservation Foundation

Continuing on their past success with habitat restoration for endangered Guatemalan lizards, the International Reptile Conservation Foundation will use AZH funding this year to create habitat for the Guatemalan beaded lizard by planting 100 hectares of oak forest on abandoned agricultural plots. This will be the first ecological restoration project in the dry forests of Guatemala. The project aims to:


  • Assess and document forest tree species composition in well preserved areas of habitat
  • Engage local communities in direct conservation actions such as tree seed collection and reforestation
  • Establish a local tree nursery to propagate and grow large tree seedlings able to withstand dry seasons
  • Restore up to 100 ha of habitat with 10,000 native trees
  • Determine survival and growth rate of newly planted trees
  • Develop scalable techniques for dry forest ecosystem restoration in the Matagua Valley

Building Collection of Extinct-in-the-Wild Species
Botanic Gardens Conservation International

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) maintains PlantSearch, the only global database of plant species maintained ex situ in living botanical collections. AZH funding will be help BGCI utilize this database to prevent the permanent loss of extinct-in-the-wild plant species maintained in living botanical collections. To do this it will:

  • Compile a comprehensive list of extinct-in-the-wild plant species maintained in living botanical collections and the collections that maintain them.
  • Verify the identity and presence of these species in the reporting collections, and compile provenance, propagation, and cultural information for each species
  • Select at least 15 species to prioritize for propagation to create backup ex situ conservation sites
  • For each priority species, identify two compatible ex situ sites to maintain duplicate collections
  • Share training materials developed with 2017 AZH funding on management of conservation collections with all participating sites

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