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Thai Cyperaceae: Distribution and Conservation

Documenting and understanding the distribution and conservation status of Cyperaceae in Thailand.
Carex juvenilis C.B. Clarke ex E.G. Camus, Thailand (Photo: D.A. Simpson)

The sedge family (Cyperaceae) in Thailand comprises 30 genera and over 250 species. Cyperaceae are important economically, as weeds or as providers of food, matting, and construction materials. They are also indicators of degradation in wetlands, and potentially an important conservation tool in a country where degradation of such habitats is frequent.
Basic distribution data for Cyperaceae are published in the Flora of Thailand but there is a need for detailed distributional data that can be applied to preparing IUCN conservation assessments and monitoring of habitat degradation. There is also a need for a simple field guide to the family that is acceptable to a wide audience.

The aim of this project is to develop a resource base for Cyperaceae which will be available and of interest to a wide range of stakeholders, especially in conservation and sustainable use. There will be capacity building through the development of skills in plant identification, database and website development, GIS and field guide preparation. We will also build on the excellent collaboration that already exists between botanical institutes in Thailand and Kew.
We hope to develop a model on which larger projects involving families of high conservation value could be based. We also anticipate this work will help to determine the environmental well-being of wetland habitats in Thailand through changes in the distribution and frequency status of species. It will help to develop conservation assessments for Cyperaceae species in Thailand and will allow determination of priorities / provision of advice for both habitat and species conservation to be carried out more effectively and with greater accuracy.

Specific outputs will include: a database of Thai Cyperaceae based on existing databased records, herbarium records and fieldwork; an online atlas of Thai Cyperaceae representing some of the first detailed mapping for a whole plant family in any tropical country; a GIS model to predict occurrence of Cyperaceae related to factors such as habitat type and geology which will identify and monitor changes in distribution and thus habitat quality; an illustrated field guide to Cyperaceae in Thai and English.

Preliminary conservation assessments for all Thai Cyperaceae have now been completed and submitted to IUCN. A total of 40 species are placed in the IUCN categories of Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered. A further 15 are Near Threatened. Distribution data have also been used in a recent major re-assessment of the floristic provinces in Thailand.

Key papers published since 2006:

  • The Thai Biogeography Group (2011). The current and future status of floristic provinces in Thailand. In: Trisurat. Y., Shrestha, R. P. & Alkemade, R. (eds), Land Use, Climate Change and Biodiversity Modeling, Perspectives and Applications. pp 221-247. IGI Global, Hershay, PA.

Project partners and collaborators

Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation
Khon Kaen University

Project Department

Project Leader: