Economics, Environment

297 – You can own a critically endangered species

Here’s another quick follow up to my post on Monday about the value of a threatened species. Ross Allen contacted me to say that he had received a present of a Wollemi Pine in a pot. The interesting thing is that the Wollemi Pine is one of Australia’s 148 critically endangered plants.

It turns out that you can buy a Wollemi Pine pot plant online. Here’s the short blurb from

The Wollemi Pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. With less than 100 adult trees known to exist in the wild, the Wollemi Pine is now the focus of extensive research to safeguard its survival. 

And here is why they are doing it:

Photo: Akerbeltz

Assist in the conservation effort by growing your own Wollemi Pine and becoming part of one of the most dramatic comebacks in natural history.

The mission of Wollemi Australia Pty Ltd is to distribute the Wollemi Pine worldwide ensuring the longevity of the plant for future generations and returning royalties to fund conservation of the Wollemi Pine in the wild and assist other threatened and endangered species.

The Botanic Gardens Trust (Sydney) has licensed Wollemi Australia Pty Ltd to propagate and market the Wollemi Pine in Australia and internationally. 

That’s a pretty interesting use of the market economy to help preserve a species. It looks like they are even selling them into Europe and soon Japan. I hope they don’t become a feral species over there!

Obviously, this strategy wouldn’t work for all threatened species. Luckily for Wollemi Pines, they’re interesting looking, apparently can be successfully propagated, and it’s not the end of the world if Ross doesn’t have a green thumb. I don’t think I’ll be allowed to buy a Western Swamp Tortoise any time soon.