Juniperus standleyi Steyerm.

Cupressaceae

Distributed in southern Mexico and northern Guatemala where clearance for agricultural purposes and logging is a threat

Associated Names:

Distribution

Mexico: Chiapas (Volcán Tacana); Guatemala: Huehuetenango, San Marcos (highlands).

The population is in steep decline and has been reduced to an estimated 1/3 of former abundance and mature trees have become scarce in some areas

Habitat and Ecology

This species occurs in open pine woodland (Pinus spp.), or sometimes in pure stands, often on rocky edges and talus slopes of mesas, or on limestone ridges. It grows there with shrubs, grasses, and forbs, sometimes on land under some extensive cultivation (Agave). The altitudinal range is from 3000 m to 4250 m a.s.l. At its upper limit it occurs in high altitude pine forest with Pinus hartwegii, where in some places it reaches the tree line

Human Uses

The local Todosanteros Indians use the wood for fence posts and shingles. Smaller wood may serve as firewood. This rare species does not appear to be in cultivation; its precarious conservation status merits ex situ conservation efforts, which include taking the species into cultivation. Due to its high altitude habitat it should prove hardy in temperate regions of the world

Conservation Status

Global status

Endangered A2acd; B2ab(ii,iii,v)

Global rationale

The serious decline observed at least since its description (1943) is, if taken over ca. 90 years (3 generations) greater than 70% and places this species in the category Endangered. The decline is also continuing, while the AOO is very small. Adams (2011) surmised that it might only be Vulnerable because its high altitude habitat is less likely to be disturbed. The cutting of trees has been severe, however, according to a report by Islebe (1993).

Global threats

This species is geographically restricted to an area of ca. 700 km2 (in two separate locations), but within that range less than a third of the original stock historically present remains (Islebe, 1993). The scarcity has led to municipal boundary disputes. Official permission is now needed to cut the trees (shrubs are not used) but the local inhabitants largely ignore this rule. In the rainy season there is extensive sheep grazing on the altiplano, which prevents successful regeneration. The specimens at highest altitudes and in rocky places difficult of access may be less vulnerable to these threats (Adams, 2011).

Conservation Actions

This species is in urgent need of protection. Rules and regulations that cannot be enforced are not helpful. Perhaps the establishment of one or two reserves on either side of the border, or an “international” reserve including a significant part of the population, would be a better option.