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Magnolia Tree Rediscovered After 97 Year Disappearance

An expedition team that was led by the Haiti National Trust recently rediscovered a critically endangered magnolia tree, located in Haiti’s montane forests. It was first discovered in 1925, and was thought to be lost to science for the last 97 years.

Much of the forests located in this area have been destroyed, therefore the team was delighted to make such an enlightening discovery.   

Image of a magnolia tree.

"The chances of finding this tree were one in a million considering that so few of Haiti’s forests remain." said Eladio Fernandez, who led the expedition.

In order to find the magnolia, the team ventured into the mountains of Massif du Nord, where they suspected the magnolia may be due to its elevated habitat. After a challenging trek through the mountains, the team finally caught a glimpse of a magnolia tree, the first sighting in 97 years. They were able to identify it through its white and uniquely shaped leaves. 

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Altogether, the team managed an encouraging number of 16 adult northern Haiti magnolia trees in total, with the flowers in various stages of growth. They then proceeded to take some photos, as well as samples to take back for analysis. Even more excitingly, they also discovered some juvenile magnolias.

Large swathes of the forests in the area have suffered mass deforestation, however this has given the team hope of rewilding the areas once more as they look towards the future. Already they are planning for this event, and have several ideas running through the pipeline. 

First up is a seed collection trip, which will help to launch a nursery of magnolia trees and begin to boost restoration efforts, with even the local communities getting involved. 

"This rediscovery energizes our efforts to rewild Haiti," says Anne-Isabelle Bonifassi, executive director of Haiti National Trust.

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In addition, both Re:wild and the team at Haiti National Trust have been working to rewild the Grand Bois ecosystem, and are focusing on creating Haiti's first-ever private reserve. Their long term goal is to be able to protect and restore the Caribbean Islands.

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