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Threatened Plants Rescue Center

In 2004, the Aroid Conservation Site was expanded to include other species considered at risk [rare, vulnerable, threatened, endangered] in Cuc Phuong National Park. We coined the word “THREATENED PLANTS RESCUE CENTER” [TPRC] for this site. For each species, 30-35 individuals of selected species were planted and, in the case of tree species, they were spaced in such a way, in order to provide a good growing space for the mature trees. The conservation status of these species was determined based on the list of rare, vulnerable, threatened and endangered species found in CPNP in the book “Plant Diversity of Cuc Phuong National Park” [Tinh da dang thuc vat o Cuc Phuong] (Phu Ngoc Lan et al., 1996), as well as on the book “Vietnam Red Data Book Part II. Plants” [Anonymous, 1996, 2007]. The establishment of the TPRC is in line with the ex situ conservation mission of Cuc Phuong National Park, and serves as the counterpart of the Endangered Primate Rescue Center (EPRC), established in 1993 with the assistance of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (Cuc Phuong National Park, 2012). The TPRC supplements and strengthens the in situ conservation effort of Cuc Phuong National Park. Beyond conservation, plants within the TPRC site serve as a reserve of genetic material for scientific studies, for different purposes, including the discovery of bioactive compounds as potential candidates for pharmaceutical development, as was implemented in the ICBG project.

LIM-XANH

Biodiversity Conservation Support Program (BCSP)

In 2010, the Vietnam-Laos ICBG established a program called “Biodiversity Conservation Support Program”. Cuc Phuong National Park submitted a proposal to continue and to improve the conditions of the TPRC, under the title of “Improvement and Improved Management of the Threatened Plants Rescue Center (TPRC) at Cuc Phuong National Park”. Funds from the BCSP provided a supplement and strengthened other conservation projects already on-going at CPNP, specifically, the Gymnosperms Conservation project. Thus, under the funding from the BCSP, the TPRC site is maintained in good operational condition, new species were added, a database of the plants was built, and phenological observations were carried out.

 

By March 20, 2012, 48 species of threatened, rare, endemic and precious plants of Cuc Phuong National Park were growing inside the TPRC.

 

 The Value of the Threatened Plants Rescue Center

The TPRC represents a living gene bank of rare, vulnerable, threatened and endangered plant species of Cuc Phuong National Park. It fulfills the ex situ conservation mission of the park. Plants in the TPRC also serve as a readily available source of genetic materials for basic and applied scientific studies that may lead to the elucidation of specific scientific questions, and to economic development. In the context of the ICBG’s drug discovery goal, plants inside the TPRC serve as a readily available material to undertake initial screening and in the early-stage studies in the discovery process. The case of Rhaphidophora decursiva described above provides an example.

 

The discovery of a potent bioactive molecule from rare, vulnerable, threatened or endangered, and protected species, and its development into a drug, becomes even more significant, because such discovery points to the real value of these plants, which help strengthen the justification for their continued protection. In the event of such discovery and development, huge amounts of plant materials will be needed to complete the development pipeline, including pre-clinical and clinical studies, if the molecule in question could not be synthesized. Under such a scenario, the plants grown in the TPRC would serve as a ready starting point in the generation of large-scale production through cultivation projects, involving local communities, hence, leading to economic development. Other propagation methods, such as tissue culture, may also be performed using plants at the TPRC as the starting material.

 

In summary, it is important to manage and to protect the good health and conditions of plants growing in the Threatened Plant Rescue Center.

TPRC---3

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