Madagascar lies in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. The island is perhaps best known as the unique home of the lemur. But those lemurs live among some of the most rich and varied flora in the world. And so threatened is that flora that British and Malagasy scientists were involved in a project to retrieve seeds from the island to be stored ina British seed bank. The project is being overseen by the Royal Botanic Garden on the outskirts of London. The botanist Steward Cable is head of the conservation center there and a frequent visitor of the island. He spoke to Julian Marshall.
I mean Madagascar is well known as one of the top biodiversity hot spots in the world. Ithas perhaps 13,000 plant species. 90% of those are endemic to the country, i.e. found nowhere else in the world. But also many species, many of those species are only found in small areas. And I would say that probably about 80% of the population are dependent on subsistence farming. And a lot of their farming is slash and burn, shifting cultivation where farmers have to move to a new patch of forest every year. They cut it, they burn it and they can grow dry rice or cassava for a year or so or two years at most. And then the nutrients are gone and they have to move to a new patch of forest. And for centuries that would not have been a problem with the low population and with long fallow periods but people return quite quickly now. And after three cycles perhaps with people returning after three five years something like that, then the forest reversed to grassland. So we are losing many of those species in Madagascar, those unique species.
And have you lost any already?
Well, we don’t know. It’s very difficult to prove extinction but we know that forest is disappearing fast especially the dry forest in the west and the humid forest in the east. We’ve had a project looking at the palms of Madagascar which are very special group. There are 200 species of palms and we found a threat level of 83%. And there are at least 12 species that haven’t been seen for 50 years. So those difficult to prove extinction, we think that things are disappearing quite quickly now.
So you are busy retrieving seeds.
Yes. So we’ve worked in Madagascar collecting seeds for 16 years and it’s part of a global programme. And in Madagascar we’ve collected maybe 4,000 seed collections of about 2,000 species. But what we’ve found is with groups we are looking at, we are looking at maybe70% of the species of Madagascar are threatened with extinction compared to global backgroundofmaybe 20%.
1. Seed bank seed bank 种子库；种子银行
例：Britain has a Millennium Seed Bank a growing archive of all the country’s plants.
英国有一个“千禧年种子银行” 。 它不断扩大，收藏了该国所有植物 。
2. Be endemic to 地方特有的
例：Companies say these problems are endemic to doing business in China.
3. Be dependent on 依赖，依靠；取决于
例：You'll be dependent on network speed and availability.
4. Subsistence farming自给农业；少有余粮的农场经营
例：Millions of people are moving from subsistence farming to urban manufacturing, resulting in a massive boost to output.
5. Slash and burn刀耕火种法
例：Traditional slash and burn farming methods have exhausted the soil.
马达加斯加坐落于非洲东海岸的印度洋中，这个岛最著名的一点可能就是——狐猴的唯一栖息地，而这些狐猴居住在世界上最丰富多样的植物群中 。这些植物群面临极大的威胁，以至于英国和马达加斯加科学家联手开展了一个项目，从该岛上回收种子，储存在英国的种子库中 。该项目由伦敦市郊的皇家植物园监督，植物学家斯图尔德·开博尔是植物园保护中心的领导，他也经常拜访该岛 。斯图尔德接受了朱利安·马歇尔的采访 。
众所周知，马达加斯加是世界上生物多样性最好的热点地区之一，有大约1.3万个植物物种，其中90%是这个国家特有的，也就是说世界上其他地方没有 。但其中很多物种都只有在小区域能找到 。可以说，大概有80%的人口以自给农业为生，他们的耕作方式是刀耕火种、迁徙农业，农民每年得转移到一片新的森林里 。他们伐木、焚烧，种大概一年最多两年旱稻或木薯，之后营养物流失，他们不得不转移到一片新森林 。几百年来，人口较少和休闲期较长使得这种方式没有问题，但现在人们回来的速度非常快 。大概三轮后，人们经过三五年回来时，森林变成了草地 。所以说马达加斯加的很多物种在流失，都是些独特的物种 。
这个我们不知道，很难证明一个物种的灭绝，但我们知道森林在快速退化，特别是西部的干燥林和东部的潮湿森林 。我们设立了一个项目，专注于马达加斯加的棕榈植物，它们是一个非常特殊的群体 。有200种棕榈树，我们发现威胁水平是83% 。至少有12个物种50年都没见过 。虽然证明物种灭绝很难，但我们认为现在事物消失的速度太快了 。
是的 。我们在马达加斯加工作收集种子达16年了，这是国际项目中的一部分 。在马达加斯加，我们大概采种4000个，共2000个种类 。我们发现，我们关注的种群中70%的物种面临濒危，相比之下，这个概率在全球范围大概是20% 。