Leonardo DiCaprio gives his name to this tropical tree discovered in 2021

Barely discovered, Uvariopsis dicaprio is already threatened by deforestation. This tree, living in a virgin forest in Cameroon, owes its name to Leonardo DiCaprio, a famous actor but also an active defender of the environment, committed alongside a nature protection association to counter the exploitation of the forest. Ebo where endangered primates live.

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A tropical tree discovered in the forest of Ebo in Cameroon was named after actor Leonardo DiCaprio who was committed to the preservation of this tropical forest, scientists from the British Botanical Garden in Kew announced on January 6. Their study is published in the revue PeerJ. Over 200 cash from plants and mushrooms were officially appointed in 2021 by Kew researchers (West London) and their partners around the world.

Among these species, which range from a killer tobacco plant to a orchid that grows in total darkness, figure theUvariopsis dicaprio. This 4-meter-high tree with a trunk adorned with large yellow-green flowers was discovered in the Ebo forest, which is located north of Douala (south), the economic capital of Cameroon.

It was named after the actor who signed up for 2020 alongside the conservation organization. Re:wild to prevent the authorization to operate for the production of the drink work of more than 68,000 hectares of this forest. The Cameroonian government finally annulled this decision in August 2020, to the satisfaction of environmental defenders who had notably underlined the presence of endangered primates in this pristine forest.

The threat of deforestation still present

« We very much appreciated the support Leo gave us in the campaign to protect Ebo last year, so it seemed appropriate to honor him in this way, naming a species unique to this forest with his name. », Explained Dr Martin Cheek, principal investigator in the Africa team of Kew. If the logging concession had been launched, we would probably have lost this species due to timber extraction and slash-and-burn agriculture which generally follows logging concessions ».

Most Uvariopsis dicaprio is already considered to be critically endangered because the forest in which it is found is still threatened by logging, mining and land conversion in plantations.

« As long as a species does not have a scientific name, assessing its risk of extinction is almost impossible, making protection against extinction and researching their properties incredibly difficult. Kew emphasizes. Several species on the 2021 list are already considered to be endangered due to threats to their natural habitat and three are already said to be extinct.

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