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The National Institute of Biological Resources successfully restored the hardy yellow hibiscus, a class II endangered species

▷ NIBR ed high genetic diversity of the hardy yellow hibiscus both, natural habitats and restoration sites 

Sejong, August 4 - The National Institute of Biological Resources, an affiliate of the Ministry of Environment, has conducted a joint study with the research team of Professor Kim Sang-tae of the Catholic University of Korea (CUK). They analyzed the genetic diversity of the hardy yellow hibiscus populations, a class II endangered species, in their original habitat and restoration site. Their genetic diversity has been verified to be in a good state in both areas. 

The hardy yellow hibiscus, whose botanical name is "hibiscus hamabo," is a shrub in the Hibiscus genus native to Korea and inhabits very limited areas in South Korea, such as Jeju-do and southern coast of Korea. The species significantly reduced population size as South Korea built more coastal roads and tourist attractions, destroying their habitat. In 1998, the species was designated as an endangered wild plant and protected intensively until now.  

NIBR has put efforts into restoring the hardy yellow hibiscus in Korea. Since 2013, NIBR has collected seeds from its habitats in Pyoseon-ri, Seogwipo-si of Jeju-do, which germinated and proliferated. NIBR donated 4,200 seedlings to Seogwipo-si and planted 4,000 seedlings throughout Songaksan Mountain and Hallim-eup in 2017. The Jeju Native Plants Society, a private group based in Jeju-do, made the first move to restore the species of Hibiscus hamabo. Then, Yeomiji Botanical Garden, Dadohaehaesang National Park, NIBR, and many other private organizations and government agencies put various efforts into preserving the species.

To evaluate restoration of the species, the research team of the Catholic University and NIBR have analyzed the genetic diversity of populations of the hardy yellow hibiscus from 13 sites in Jeju-do and Southern coastal lines of Korea since June last year. In both groups, natural habitats and restoration sites, their genetic diversity was measured at the similar level. It means that the species have been restored well enough to maintain the population health. The artificially restored population also shows similar traits. Their outcomes are identical to those of the natural population. All of these indicate a successful proliferation and the data prove that the species is less likely to become extinct. Moreover, the Ministry of Environment will use the findings in its effort to update the endangered species list in 2022. The ministry prepared a delisting proposal for the hardy yellow hibiscus and held a public hearing on July 5.

Kang Jae-shin, Director of the Plant Resources Division of the National Institute of Biological Resources (NIBR), said, “The restoration of the Hardy Yellow Hibiscus is a successful case of restoration of an endangered plant species through a collaboration between private and public sectors. NIBR plans to expand our research scopes to restore more endangered species and preserve them.”

Contact: Kim Won-hee, Researcher

Plant Resource Division, NIBR / +82-(0)32-590-7480

Foreign Media Contact: Chun Minjo(Rachel)

+82-(0)44-201-6055 /