June 2009 - Blakea attenboroughii is now the official scientific name of a spectacular new species of tree found only in Ecuador. This beautiful tree, with magnificent bright blue flowers, has now been formally described and published in the Proceedings of the Californian Academy of Science, and named in honour of the great natural historian and World Land Trust patron, Sir David Attenborough.
In November 2007 Lou Jost, an American Botanist who works with the World Land Trust's Ecuadorian project partners, Fundación EcoMinga, was taking a WLT staff member and also a representative from WLT's company sponsors, Puro Coffee, to visit the newly created nature reserve at Cerro Candelaria in Ecuador, when they found what they thought might be a species of tree new to science. Lou’s suspicions proved correct and the tree has now features in the Proceedings of the California Academy of Science, under the name of Blakea attenboroughii. It was felt appropriate to name the tree in honour of Sir David Attenborough who has supported the World Land Trust since its foundation and has been its patron since 2004 when he launched a campaign to raise funds for the purchase of a rainforest reserve in Ecuador.
This is no ordinary tree -- it is, so far, only known to occur in a tiny area of Ecuador (though further research may find it further a field) -- and it has spectacular bright blue flowers. The reserve areas purchased by local Ecuadorian conservation groups, with funding from the World Land Trust, are proving to be a real treasure trove of biodiversity with many new species of orchid being discovered -- some of which are being named after sponsors of the land purchase -- as well as new species of frog and other wildlife.
John Burton, the CEO of the World Land Trust commented "Ever since the scientific naming of species commenced it has been used to honour great contributions to biology, and everyone involved was agreed that Sir David's contribution to scientific knowledge of animal and plant life are second to none. We were delighted when he accepted the invitation to have a new species named after him, particularly when it is so unusual to discover new trees, with such beautiful flowers".
For more information about how you can donate to the World Land Trust's projects to save biodiversity and create nature reserves visit www.worldlandtrust.org or call Viv Burton (44) 01986 874422.