Botanics staff rooting for threatened habitat

STAFF from the Botanic Garden have joined forces with WWF to highlight the plight of threatened Brazilian habitat.

The role that Scottish-based scientists are playing in protecting one of the world's most threatened habitats - the Cerrado, in Brazil - is the topic of a new exhibition by WWF and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh which will run from Saturday, May 28 until the end of August 2011.

Often described as the "upside-down rainforest" due to its deep sub-surface root systems, the Cerrado is a diverse environment and home to some of the world's rarest animals and plants.

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Dr James Ratter from the Royal Botanic Garden, who has worked on Cerrado conservation for 50 years said: "I have seen a great deal of change since I first visited the Cerrado in 1967. There was not really any agriculture there at that time, but now a great deal of it has been taken over for farming.

"It is such a tragic loss, as this is one of the great centres of biodiversity on the planet.

"Our work has helped to pinpoint areas of high biodiversity, which informs decisions on which areas of the Cerrado should have priority for conservation. This kind of knowledge is vital for conservation organisations like WWF, and has been useful for the Brazilian authorities."