22 May, 2012

Sponsor a species – help make a bio-literate world

Tree of Life by Carol Ballenger

Join our sponsorship programme that links the private sector, community groups and scientists to drive DNA barcoding for trees worldwide.


Scientists estimate that there are somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 different species of tree on the planet. Most of these have never been identified or named. Almost all have never been studied genetically.

Until recently we have relied on traditional taxonomic approaches to identify species. Today there is a new way to do this that is creating a whole new set of possibilities for the way we understand ecosystems and biodiversity – it’s called DNA Barcoding.

DNA barcoding is a system of species identification and discovery using a short section of DNA from a standardised region of the genome. It’s called barcoding, because just like supermarket barcodes, once you have scanned (sequenced) the gene you can automatically identify the species by using commonly agreed parts of the genome.

Besides making species identification a cheap and automated process it also means you can identify a species of tree without having to study the entire plant.

Why barcode trees?

We are all familiar with endangered species such as Snow Leopards, but few realise that tree species can be endangered as well. They are protected by the same international conventions as endangered animals are, known as CITES. Once cut down and turned into products they can be difficult to identify – that’s where you can help.

By barcoding endangered tree species you can help create an essential tool in the fight against deforestation, protect ecosystems for indigenous communities and preserve biodiversity.

Communities and Companies working together

We will pair community groups with corporate sponsors to raise funds for barcoding specific species.

Groups are able to choose species and parts of the world relevant to them. Projects will raise both awareness of the role of different tree species in ecosystems and link citizen scientists with leading research teams around the world.

This is ideal for schools, Scout & Guide groups and nature societies. It offers genuine opportunities for companies that recognise the importance of improving our appreciation and knowledge of biodiversity to contribute a useful conservation tool as well as reach in a meaningful way.

All genetic information created is Open Source and freely available.

To learn more please write to us, or just to stay up to date please follow us on Twitter.

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