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Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 172515519

Sustainably using socio-economically important plants in south-east Zimbabwe

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 172515519) - Pepperbark Tree - Awarded $10,000 on May 22, 2017

The Pepper-bark tree is Extinct in the Wild in Zimbabwe, largely due to habitat loss and over-collection for herbal medicine, however is still survives in a small number of private gardens. The Global Trees Campaign (GTC) will reintroduce this important medicinal tree back into Zimbabwe and facilitate its cultivation in home gardens to generate sustainable incomes.


Why this species?

The Pepper-bark tree (Warburgia salutaris) is an Endangered tree, endemic to the forests of Southern Africa. In 2008 it was listed as Extinct in the Wild in Zimbabwe primarily due to human induced habitat degradation and over-collection for its much sought-after bark used in traditional medicine. However the tree still survives in in a limited number of private gardens in Zimbabwe. 


What are we doing?

GTC is working with the University of Fort Hare and Vumba Botanical Gardens to reintroduce the Pepper-bark Tree back into Zimbabwe. This project will conduct a genetic analysis of Zimbabwean and South African Pepper-bark trees and then establish representative ex situ collections at Vumba Botanical Gardens. GTC will also work with local communities within its original range to build capacity for its cultivation within home gardens. The harvesting of Pepper-bark leaves will be promoted as they contain the same active chemicals as the bark and can be harvested with greater sustainably. It is hoped that increasing the supply of sustainably cultivated Pepper-bark products will enable the reintroduction of this threatened tree back into the wild in the future.    


Key achievements 

During a trip to collect DNA samples from Zimbabwean home gardens it was discovered that a former National Botanic Gardens Harare employee Mr. Duri, is growing a Pepper-bark Tree of Zimbabwean origin in his garden. Remarkably this tree is producing seed (the only known Pepper-bark Tree in Zimbabwe to do so) and Mr. Duri has used the seed to propagate 24 seedlings. This important source of seed has been used to establish ex situ collections at Vumba Botanical Gardens. 

Project 172515519 location - Zimbabwe, Africa