Restoring the Last Natural Forest of Widdringtonia whytei (Cupressaceae)

Reintroductions are increasingly used to expand the occupancy and abundance of endangered species and thus reduce their extinction risk. We have been working on a long-term experimental reintroduction program with the national tree of Malawi, Widdringtonia whytei (Cupressaceae); this Red Listed species has almost been extirpated from its natural range on Mt. Mulanje, Malawi. We are using seedling transplants and an adaptive reintroduction approach whereby sequential plantings test hypotheses on how the soil microenvironment, mycorrhizal community, seedling genetic origin, nurse plants and transplant site affect seedling establishment and survival. This a collaborative project with Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Mt. Mulanje Conservation Trust, the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi, and Stellenbosch University. (Egerton-Warburton and outside collaborators)