A high altitude spruce known mainly from the Zangbo [Yarlung Tsangpo] drainage of SE Xizang [Tibet]. Logging and deforestation have had some impact.
China (Sichuan, Tibet [or Xizang], Yunnan). In SE Xizang [Tibet] it forms forests or open stands below the Abies forest. It is a constituent of the forest around Pasum tso (local Tibetan dialect, Draksum tso in Chinese), a picturesque glacial lake.
Habitat and Ecology
In SE Xizang [Tibet] this species forms almost pure forests between 3,000 m and 3,800 m a.s.l., usually well above a mixed coniferous forest belt in which Picea spinulosa is the dominant spruce. At around 3000 m it may occur mixed with Pinus armandii, while at its upper limit it grows with Larix sp. and Abies spp., the firs ultimately replacing the spruces above 3,600-3,800 m a.s.l. Understorey trees include Betula szechuanica, B. utilis, Acer caudatum, Malus baccata and Sorbus sp. and there may be a well developed shrub layer with e.g. Rhododendron, Euonymus, Lonicera, Borinda, and Enkianthus (Rushforth 2008).
This species has a quality timber suitable for both sawn timber and pulp and could be exploited for these. It is used locally for construction
Global Status and Rationale
Near Threatened (VU A2cd)
The level of population loss in recent years raises concern about the risk to the species. This loss has occurred in a number of parts of the range, but its proportion as estimated does not at present meet the criteria for a threatened category (it almost qualifies under criterion A2cd). Overall substantial healthy populations remain undamaged. However, should the ban on logging fail to halt habitat or population destruction it may meet the criteria in the near fuure. Currently it is listed as Near Threatened.
There has been some historic logging for timber, both for export to the rest of China but also for local use. I some areas the forest has been replaced by a clump-forming species of bamboo (Borinda grossa). Over-grazing that inhibits regeneration is an additional threat. Only a proportion of the total population has been affected, perhaps 20-25%. Some large old trees exist.
The Government of China has imposed a ban on logging in western China. The species is not recorded in any specially protected area but is in ex situ cultivation in Europe and North America