Abies fabri (Mast.) W. G. Craib

Pinaceae

Endemic to south-central China where acid rain is the most serious threat and is causing decline or death to many of the trees

Associated Names:

Distribution

Abies fabri is distributed in south-central China in Western Sichuan

Population size is many thousands but in fragmented forests on tops or upper reaches of mountains.

Habitat and Ecology

The type location of Abies fabri is on Mt. Emei (Emei Shan), a mountain SW of Chengdu in Sichuan. The species occurs at elevations between 2000 and 3100 metres [K.D. Rushforth, pers. comm.; Craib (1919) has given a range between 3,000 m and 3,600 m a.s.l.] in a humid, cool climate (mean temp. in Jan. -4ºC, in July +12.6ºC, annual precipitation >2000 mm). There are some almost pure stands and scattered trees on Mt. Emei, but elsewhere in W Sichuan the species occurs mixed with Picea likiangensis, Tsuga chinensis and occasionally with Larix potaninii.

Human Uses

This species is not known to be a commercially important timber tree, presumably due to its restricted occurrence (protected from exploitation on the 'holy' mountain Emei Shan). Away from protected areas it may have been locally used for construction. It is uncommon in cultivation and mostly restricted to arboreta and botanic gardens.

Conservation Status

Global status

Vulnerable A2acde

Global rationale

As both of Abies fabri's constituent subspecies have been assessed as Vulnerable as a result of past and continuing decline, the species as a whole is also assessed as Vulnerable.

Global threats

The type locality is the Emei (Omei) Shan to the south west of Chengdu which is a protected site, as is the Erlang Shan, Wa Shan and Wawu Shan. Other forests are not in protected areas and have suffered logging over the past century. However, the populations near the Sichuan pendi, in particular, are vulnerable to acid rain from industries near Chengdu. Acid rain appears to be the most serious threat to the species, causing decline or death of trees observed on Emei shan between 1980 (KR observation) and 2009 (Qiaoping Xiang, pers.comm.).

Conservation Actions

The mountain Emei Shan is a principal ‘holy mountain’ in Chinese Buddhism, consequently this species enjoys protection from exploitation there. The Government of China has also recently imposed a logging ban in western China.