Three new nettles from Southern China

Elatostema laevicaule, a new species of nettle from Guangxi Province in SW China. The species is a small succulent plant which grows on or amongst rocks in the forest understory

All three of the new species were described in November 2013 in the journal Phytotaxa. Continue reading Three new nettles from Southern China


Our 13,000 seedlings start germinating…


A member of the community of San José inspecting the germinating seedlings that he helped plant and has been tending. They took two weeks to get this big, about 15 cm. Once they are 40 cm tall, they will be planted out in rows four metres apart where over the course of a year they will develop into small trees and start to enrich the soil and sustain agriculture. Well that’s the plan at least.

Darwin Initiative project to promote perma-culture and restore abandoned pasture

Inga agroforest as we plan to have in place by 2015

Inga agroforest as we plan to have in place by 2015

As part of a Darwin Initiative project awarded in March of this year a team comprising foresters from the Bolivian NGO Herencia and botanists from the Tropical America Team at Kew are seeking to reduce pressure on the tropical forests of the Bolivian Amazon.

Degraded cattle pasture in the Pando, Bolivia

Degraded cattle pasture in the Pando, Bolivia

We are aiming to do so by encouraging the establishment permanent agriculture (permaculture) on degraded cattle pasture and disused slash and burn (chaco) sites through a series of demonstration plots established in partnership with four rural communities. Our aim is to use trees of the Inga genus of the legume family (beans, pulses, tamarind) to capture and restore soil fertility over a period of 18 months and then pollard the trees so that crops can be grown between the rows. Inga is the ideal genus to do so as it thrives and grows quickly, up to 6 m in two years, in the very acidic, poor degraded soils of abandoned chaco and cattle pasture. It captures and rehabilitates sites by shading out weeds, enriching the soil with its specialized roots and abundant leaf litter and attracting a host of biological control agents to protect the crops.

Alex Monro's blog about the documenting and conservation of biodiversity