Yemen: Protecting Socotran jewels from extinction

Yemen: Protecting Socotran jewels from extinction

Conservation of the endangered endemic Boswellia trees on Socotra Island in Yemen

Partner: Mendel University in Brno (MENDELU)
Years: 2020-2022

Boswellia elongata, Homhil Plateau, before/ after cyclones (2015)

Frankincense trees, economically important species that are intimately intertwined with human history since millennia, are currently endangered on Socotra Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Eight endemic taxa have been described from the island, making Socotra the area with the largest radiation of Boswellia species globally.

Recent changes in land management practices by local people cause overgrazing, resulting in the lack of tree regeneration and ultimately leading to decline, even extinction of local populations. Moreover, locally intensified cyclones and prolonged droughts caused by global climate change, have recently destroyed mature frankincense trees across the island.

This Boswellia conservation project targets an evolutionary unique group of insular trees, focusing on a comprehensive inventory of frankincense tree populations, in situ seed germination and woodland restoration, on-the-ground conservation measures, including training and awareness for stakeholders aimed at local communities and technical staff to ensure a long-term conservation strategy, increasing the resilience of trees with high ecological and cultural importance.