Propagação ex situ de espécies ameaçadas

Serra da Estrela is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site and a vital biodiversity hotspot in Portugal, facing increasing environmental pressures from habitat degradation, climate change, and invasive species. These threats put at the risk the survival of numerous plant species, some endemic to the region. Ex situ propagation, the cultivation of plants outside their natural habitats, presents a viable strategy to conserve these endangered flora and potentially restore the wider Serra da Estrela ecosystem.

Ananda Kalyani’s Greentech project recognizes the importance of safeguarding this unique biodiversity and aims to leverage technology and innovative solutions to regenerate and enhance the diverse ecosystems within the property. As part of this broader mission, establishing an ex situ propagation program within Ananda Kalyani’s grounds would help conserve endangered plant species native to the Serra da Estrela region. The program would focus on cultivating and propagating these species, with the ultimate goal of reintroducing them into their natural habitats and making them available for broader conservation initiatives. This targeted action aligns with Greentech’s overarching goal of ensuring the survival of these endangered plants and contributing to the restoration of the wider Serra da Estrela ecosystem. By playing an active role in plant conservation, Ananda Kalyani and its Greentech project strive to make a lasting impact on the preservation of this invaluable natural heritage.

Ex situ propagation serves as a critical safeguard against extinction for endangered plant species. By cultivating these plants in controlled environments within Ananda Kalyani, we can achieve the following conservation goals:

  1. In-house resource: By establishing an in-house resource of native plants, we can bolster populations of endangered species, enhancing their resilience and genetic diversity, and ultimately protecting them from extinction.
  2. Habitat restoration: Propagated plants can be reintroduced into suitable habitats within their natural range, contributing to the restoration of degraded ecosystems.
  3. Genetic preservation: Maintaining a diverse gene pool in ex situ collections ensures the long-term adaptability and evolutionary potential of these species.
  4. Research and education: Ex situ collections provide valuable resources for scientific research, allowing for a deeper understanding of plant biology, ecology, and conservation needs. They also serve as educational tools to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity conservation.

Possible species for propagation in Ananda Kalyani:

Given the diverse microclimates and habitats found within the Serra da Estrela and its surrounding areas, as well as the conservation status of the plants, a variety of endangered plant species have been identified as promising candidates for successful ex situ propagation. Careful consideration of their specific ecological requirements will be essential to ensure optimal cultivation conditions.

  • Veratrum album (white hellebore): This native mountain perennial can be propagated through seed or division of the rhizomes. According to the Red List of Vascular Flora of Mainland Portugal 2020 it is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) in Portugal. Ex situ cultivation allows for close monitoring of its growth and controlled harvesting of its potentially valuable medicinal compounds, while its toxicity necessitates careful handling during propagation and cultivation.
  • Narcissus cyclamineus (cyclamen-flowered daffodil): This bulbous perennial readily propagates through seed or bulb division. Its unique floral morphology and adaptability to varying soil conditions make it a promising candidate for ex situ cultivation.
  • Lilium martagon (martagon lily): A stunning wild lily, it prefers cooler temperatures and well-draining soil. Seed propagation is relatively straightforward, and ex situ cultivation can help preserve its genetic diversity.
  • Ranunculus henriquesii (henriques’ buttercup): A rare buttercup endemic to Portugal, it requires specific soil moisture and pH levels. Ex situ propagation can aid in understanding its ecological requirements and developing effective conservation strategies.
  • Monotropa hypopitys (yellow bird’s-nest): A unique myco-heterotrophic plant, it lacks chlorophyll and obtains nutrients through a symbiotic relationship with fungi. Ex situ cultivation poses challenges but offers valuable insights into its complex ecology.
  • Asphodelus bento-rainhae (bento-rainha’s asphodel): This rare asphodel is threatened by habitat loss. Seed propagation is possible, and ex situ cultivation can contribute to its conservation by increasing population numbers.
  • Rosa rubiginosa (sweet briar): A fragrant rose, it propagates through cuttings or seeds. Ex situ cultivation can help preserve its genetic diversity and evaluate its potential for habitat restoration projects.
  • Eriophorum angustifolium (common cottongrass): A wetland species, it prefers acidic, boggy soils. Ex situ propagation can involve seed germination in controlled wetland environments.
  • Menyanthes trifoliata (bogbean): This aquatic plant can be propagated through seed or rhizome division. Ex situ cultivation in artificial wetlands can help maintain its genetic diversity.
  • Pastinaca sativa subsp. sylvestris (wild parsnip): This wild relative of the cultivated parsnip is threatened by habitat loss. Seed propagation is relatively straightforward, and ex situ cultivation can support reintroduction efforts.
Additional interesting species that might present unique challenges or require specialised expertise for successful propagation: 
 
  • Sorbus (whitebeams, service trees, and rowan): Several Sorbus species are native to the region, including Sorbus aria, Sorbus latifolia, and Sorbus torminalis. These trees play important ecological roles, providing food and habitat for wildlife. Germination can be slow and erratic, and some species may require specific techniques like cuttings or grafting for successful propagation. Sorbus aria is listed as critically endangered in Portugal.
  • Dianthus (pinks and carnations): Serra da Estrela is home to several endemic Dianthus species, such as Dianthus laricifolius, Dianthus langeanus, and Dianthus lusitanicus. These species are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. Some species may have specific soil or mycorrhizal requirements, and maintaining genetic diversity can be a challenge due to their limited distribution and susceptibility to habitat fragmentation.
  • Salix repens (creeping willow): Although this willow species propagates easily through cuttings and can be grown in various soil conditions, replicating its specific habitat preferences and maintaining genetic diversity can be challenging due to its adaptability and tendency to hybridize. 
  • Taxus baccata (european yew): Its slow growth, seed dormancy, and toxicity necessitate patience, specialized techniques, and careful handling in ex situ cultivation. A long-lived coniferous tree, it can be propagated through seed or cuttings. 
  • Neotinea ustulata (burnt orchid): Orchid propagation is often complex, requiring specialized techniques and symbiotic fungi. Ex situ cultivation of this species necessitates collaboration with orchid experts.
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Propagation and reintroduction protocol

The proposed protocol involves the collection of seeds or cuttings from existing populations of the selected species within the Serra da Estrela, under appropriate permits and ethical guidelines. These propagules would be carefully nurtured in a controlled nursery environment. Once established, these plants can be gradually reintroduced into appropriate habitats within the Serra da Estrela, under careful monitoring to assess their survival and long-term viability.

Conclusion

Ex situ propagation of endangered Serra da Estrela flora represents a promising and multi-faceted conservation strategy. By cultivating these species in controlled environments at Ananda Kalyani, as part of the forward-thinking Greentech project, researchers and conservationists can gain invaluable insights into their biology, ecology, and propagation requirements. This knowledge can then inform effective strategies for both ex situ and in situ conservation, habitat restoration, and ultimately the preservation of the unique biodiversity of this region. Through collaborative efforts, this approach ensures the long-term survival of these invaluable natural resources and their ecological roles within the Serra da Estrela ecosystem, while also contributing to the restoration and sustainability of the diverse landscapes at Ananda Kalyani.

pArceiros