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.Cycas couttsiana..Cycas panzhihuaensis..Encephalartos lanatus..Dioon caputoi..Encephalartos arenarius.


IUCN/SSC Cycad Specialist Group




Welcome to the Cycad Specialist Group website!

The IUCN/SSC Cycad Specialist Group (CSG) is one of around 120 specialist groups and task forces within the IUCNís Species Survival Commission (SSC). As the largest of the six commissions of IUCN - The World Conservation Union (see IUCN Structure ), the SSC is comprised of a network of 8,000+ volunteers from nearly every country around the world, all working together to stop the loss of plants, animals, and their habitats.

The major role of the SSC is to provide information to IUCN on the conservation of species and on the inherent value of species and their role in:

  • ecosystem health and functioning,

  • the provision of ecosystem services, and

  • the provision of support to human livelihoods.

The tangible products produced by the SSC are the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, the Species Information Service (SIS), conservation action plans, technical guidelines, and contributions to IUCN policy statements. The SSC delivers and promotes this technical knowledge, advice, and policy guidance to those who can influence the implementation of conservation action across the globe.

Each specialist group is led by a volunteer chair, who is appointed by the SSC Chair with recommendations from the SSC Steering Committee. Membership in the specialist groups is by invitation and is largely determined by the appointed chairperson of each respective group.

Specialist groups are typically taxon based and focus on a specific group of organisms. The CSG functions primarily in an advisory capacity by gathering, analyzing, and disseminating information related to cycad conservation and by recommending policies in cycad management, trade, legislation, and enforcement. The CSG has established several broad objectives and responsibilities, which are summarized in the following document:

Below is a link to the 2004 report submitted by the CSG to the IUCN, which details the work conducted by the CSG during 2000-2004:

Finally, without a doubt the most important product of the CSG to date is the Cycad Action Plan (published in 2003), which summarizes the conservation status of cycads and recommends specific Action Proposals designed to promote conservation on a global scale. The Cycad Action Plan is available for download from the Publications section of this website.

To learn more about the CSG and to navigate through this website, click on the links in the button bar on the left. Also, please feel free to contact the CSG Chair,Dr. John Donaldson , or the CSG Secretary/Webmaster,Jody Haynes , for comments pertaining to the function of the CSG or the information presented on this site.


A very special consignment of Encephalartos latifrons seedlings has just arrived in California! These are Trappes Valley E. latifrons ranging in size from 2.5-6 inches (6.25-15 cm) and grown from seed at Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden in Capetown, South Africa. The consignment came with all the necessary South African export permits, CITES and phytosanitary documentation, and was personally cleaned, prepared, fungicided, packaged, and couriered from South Africa to San Francisco by CSG member Jeff Chemnick. The plants were inspected and released by the USDA on 30 May 2011 and are now ready for sale. All proceeds from the sale of these plants will be administered by Dr. John Donaldson, CSG Chair, to support a species survival program for E. latifrons in habitat in South Africa. So, not only is this a great opportunity to acquire one of the rarest and most beautiful of all cycads but to help support a very worthwhile conservation program as well. Please contact Jeff Chemnick for more information. A second batch of E. latifrons seedlings of approximately the same sizes is growing in the Eastern Cape and is part of the same species survival program. Those seedlings are earmarked for sale in South Africa.

Motivation for Export of Encephalartos latifrons
(Albany Cycad) Seedlings to the US

The proposed export of seedlings of Encephalartos latifrons forms part of an initiative to conserve and restore populations of this critically endangered cycad and is consistent with the approved management plan for the species. Since 2006, a consortium of concerned groups has been working to conserve and restore populations of the Albany cycad, E. latifrons. These include the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the CSG, landowners, conservation authorities in the Eastern Cape Province, NGOs and nurseries. These stakeholders worked together with the National Department of Environmental Affairs to develop a species management plan in accordance with the countryís Threatened or Protected Species regulations. The management plan has now been approved for implementation.

How do seedlings fit into the management plan?

Under natural circumstances, Encephalartos latifrons does not set seed due to the wide separation of male and female plants and the possible extinction of pollinators. This emerged as one of the major threats in a population and habitat viability analysis (PHVA) carried out together with the Conservation Breeding SG. As a result, the management plan provides for artificial pollination and the wild planting of plants grown from the resulting seeds. The plan recognizes that more seedlings have been propagated than can be restored and includes a provision to sell surplus plants both to reduce demand for illegal collecting and to subsidize the farmerís costs in conserving the plants and their habitat. Trade in seedlings derived in this way is consistent with the amendments to the CITES definition of artificially propagated (Rev Conf. 11.11 (Rev. CoP13)), which were made specifically to accommodate this type of conservation action.

In addition, the management plan recognizes the need to expand the genepool by reintroducing genotypes from ex situ collections such as the cycad collection at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, which was established in ca 1916. Kirstenbosch has been growing plants for reintroduction but also has a surplus, i.e. more plants than can be realistically introduced. Part of the overall plan is to use these plants to raise awareness and increase funding for the restoration efforts. The application to export artificially propagated seedlings to the USA forms part of this initiative. Funding raised by the project will be managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, a not for profit statutory body, and the IUCN/SSC Cycad Specialist Group.

Prepared by: Dr. John Donaldson, CSG Chair.

Ken Hill (1948-2010)

Click here to go to Ken Hill's Memorial Page.

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This website is proudly sponsored by The Cycad Society, Inc. <www.cycad.org>


This page was updated on Sunday, 05 June 2011.