Help with a project

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Vicky
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Help with a project

Post by Vicky » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:18 pm

I'm currently working on my dissertation for the RHS Master of Horticulture qualification, for which I am looking at the ex situ conservation of Cactaceae in the UK.

As part of my research, I am undertaking a survey looking at a selection of mammillarias. If you have a few minutes to spare, I would be grateful if you would complete the survey. It can be found at https://kwiksurveys.com/s/EjeCcNF4

Many thanks
Vicky Davies
C&V Cacti
Littlehampton Branch
Rose Green, West Sussex
Mike
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Re: Help with a project

Post by Mike » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:16 pm

Hi Vicky

I've just completed your survey.

As I'm sure you know there's a big difference between having a particular species in cultivation, and that being an effective means of ex situ conservation!

Best of luck with your dissertation, and I'm sure many others here will help by completing your survey.

Mike
Based in Wiltshire and growing a mix of cacti and succulents.
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Acid John
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Re: Help with a project

Post by Acid John » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:27 pm

I am a little confused by the survey. Why does it say 'the cacti collectors are the cause of the problem'? No mention of environmental or people population growth.
Acid John
Vicky
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Re: Help with a project

Post by Vicky » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:03 pm

Thank you Mike and Acid John for your comments.

Yes, in my 'short' introduction to the survey I only mention the risk the horticultural trade is to cacti in the wild; a very significant risk and one of the main focuses for my dissertation.

If you are interested in the report I refer to in the introduction, a link can be found be found here http://www.iucnredlist.org/news/cacti-assessment, a news release from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Vicky Davies
C&V Cacti
Littlehampton Branch
Rose Green, West Sussex
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D^L
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Re: Help with a project

Post by D^L » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:18 pm

I think that gathering data on this issue is a good idea. I've filled your form in and I recommend others do to.

The reason this is potentially useful is that most of the studies into cactus conservation are badly flawed. The particular paper at the root of this, for instance, doesn't look at cactus conservation directly, but at how often they spotted that the CITES rules had been broken. Part of the story but far from all of it.

The author also admitted to me that the main conclusion was very badly worded. They implied that a huge proportion of plants in cultivation were from the wild. What the data said were that a large proportion of the species that are protected have, at some time in the recorded history, been subject to exporting - mainly legally. So lots of the species but it might only be a few of each species. Not the huge proportion of plants they seemed to claim. This misleading paper has been involved in painting honest, concerned growers as habitat thieves when this is very far from the truth. As far as the hobby is concerned a problem is that it is much easier for botanists to review data on exports than to look at real impact on the ground. As a results they report the issues of collectors much more strongly than those of, for instance, agriculture, urban development etc.

I'm not saying that there are no bad practices, there are and we should be concerned about them and try and do things to conserve the plants. But this paper does not inform us reliably about what to do to best protect plants.

I am worried about conservation in the wild. Many species are clearly threatened. I don't think we should support nurseries that sell habitat collected plants. But I'm not sure whether this makes any real difference to species survival, when compared against agriculture, urbanisation, native medicine, road building... I 'd just like to know what the real balance of risks is. Imprisoning people who have collected plants illegally might be good headlines and make us feel good. But if we focus on that, and the real problem is urbanisation, then we are spending the effort in the wrong place.

Trying to work out, not who has done what illegally, but what the real impact on populations is, would be very hard, but much more valuable. In a small way this survey works towards that.

To be fair to the reports here they do also reference human damage due to agriculture, and local medicinal uses. But many of the words used sound like "obsessive collectors" are the problem, partly because that makes more compelling writing and better headlines.

Cheers
David Lambie
esp
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Re: Help with a project

Post by esp » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:27 pm

I have just compelted the survey.

I think there is a possibility of results being misinterpreted - the questions about if you have found it difficiult to obtain various species don't give an option for "haven't tried obtain". Since I haven't looked for them, I haven't found them hard to obtain, but I'm not sure that is what you were after.
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rodsmith
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Re: Help with a project

Post by rodsmith » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:39 am

I have just completed the survey and agree in general with the comments above. In particular, the questions about availability of certain species, and difficulty in growing them, appear to make the assumption that I have attempted to obtain and/or grow all these species. In fact. although I have grown three of them, my current setup provides only a limited amount of space for plants and I don't intend to obtain any more mammillarias, either as purchases, by swapping, or from seed. I'm not sure what conclusions the survey will accurately provide.
Rod Smith

Growing a mixed collection of cacti & other succulents; mainly smaller species with a current emphasis on lithops & conophytum.
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DaveW
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Re: Help with a project

Post by DaveW » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:58 am

Acid John wrote:-

"I am a little confused by the survey. Why does it say 'the cacti collectors are the cause of the problem'? No mention of environmental or people population growth."

The problem John is most of these supposed authoritative surveys are done by Government institution employees or the Public Sector rather than a truly independent organisation like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the authorities frown upon any public employee "rocking the boat" through criticising a foreign government for allowing agriculture, road building, mining or dam building as being the main cause of destroying habitat and hence the plants. Doing so by a public body may prejudice a lucrative trade or arms contract so the "smokescreen" of collecting is always used in these reports. If you have ever tried to get a public sector employee to "put their head above the parapet" and criticise a foreign government you will know that is the truth. David Bellamy did it and got "frozen out" of the Public Sector afterwards for doing so.

If you want an honest report on threats to wildlife it needs to be done by a non public sector organisation like the WWF who are independent and really should be in charge of CITES as an independent non state institution in order to remove politics from conservation, being free to criticise foreign governments actions on conservation.

We all agree conservation is needed, but politics must be removed from it and those compiling such reports must be seen to be truly independent of any state institution. It will be interesting to see if this proposed report lays 90% of the blame at foreign governments agriculture, road building, mining and dam building policies rather than unauthorised collecting as main destruction of habitats, as all who have visited habitat have seen to be the truth.

Also see:-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8606011.stm
Vicky
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Re: Help with a project

Post by Vicky » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:00 am

Thank you for your comments, I shall take them into consideration when I look at the results.
Vicky Davies
C&V Cacti
Littlehampton Branch
Rose Green, West Sussex
Terry S.
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Re: Help with a project

Post by Terry S. » Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:08 am

Hello Vicky. You are treading a fine line between ex-situ conservation and CITES politics; two things that are definitely not mutually compatible. The problem is particularly significant because most Mammillaria species come from Mexico and it has been extremely difficult to legally get material out of that country for many years. Undoubtedly, what I hope are only small amounts of plants or seeds are coming from Mexico because new discoveries are still reaching the market place. I see plants for sale at various nurseries, conventions, ELK meetings, etc. and I have certainly not seen what I could recognise as a wild-dug Mammillaria for VERY many years. However there is a plethora of home-propagated material of many species. The curious thing is that many of the species that we thought as "common" years ago are not being propagated. My late, very good friend, Bill Maddams was trying to replace his M. zeilmanniana for several years, although I do see them around again now. You might find Vicky that the less charismatic species are those that might not be conserved ex-situ. What I do worry about is the amount of wild-dug succulents that may now be finding their way to the far east in the burgeoning, highly-priced market in China and Korea.

The press release for the paper that is mentioned above, caused a lot of concern within our community when it appeared. It was very sensationalistic and inaccurate about the effect of collecting for horticulture on wild populations. 100% of the plants in our collections originally came from the wild (even the parents of hybrids), but we have learnt how to propagate that material in our nurseries and greenhouses. The original paper was actually a little bit more balanced and did mention the negative effects of change of use of land.
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