Pinus latteri Mason

Pinaceae

Associated Names:

Tenasserim Pine

Description

Taxonomic Note

Pinus latteri includes the mainland populations referred to in some regional taxonomic works and Red Data Lists as Pinus merkusii. This species is regarded as endemic to the Philippines and Sumatera. The differences between the two taxa primarily involve a grass-like stage in the mainland subpopulations that is absent in the insular populations.

Distribution

Recorded from China: Guangdong (Hainan Island, introduced?), Guangxi; SE Myanmar [Burma], Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam. This species has a sporadic and uneven distribution throughout most of mainland southeast Asia. Consequently it has a very large extent of occurrence and its area of occupancy is likely to also be beyond the threshold for a threatened category. There are considerably more than ten locations although the population could be regarded as severely fragmented.

Habitat and Ecology

Pinus latteri is a widespread species occurring from near sea level to ca. 1,200 m a.s.l., forming more or less open stands on old river terraces with sandy or gravelly soil or in seasonally dry hills. It is a fire-adapted species capable of surviving grass fires through a 'grass stage' as a seedling and can invade open terrain especially in nutrient-poor soils. Its range is within the influence of SE monsoons, with mean annual precipitation around 1,500 mm in Myanmar and Thailand. It is also a constituent tree in dipterocarp forests (e.g. Dipterocarpus tuberculatus), especially in more open situations on drier sites of ridges and spurs in the hill country of Myanmar [Burma] and other countries in mainland SE Asia.

Human Uses

Tenasserim Pine is a timber tree used in SE Asia for light construction purposes. The wood is moderately hard and very resinous and only suitable for indoor applications when processed as sawn timber. Doors, window frames and flooring are common uses; some provenances can be put to veneers. Large quantities are nowadays used in the wood pulp industry, while charcoal burning is a more traditional use still current. It is also an important tree for resin tapping in some countries. In China, the resin of this species has some medicinal applications, e.g. in making ointments. This tropical pine has been introduced for afforestation in several countries in Africa, but the results have on the whole been unsatisfactory because of difficulties with raising it beyond the seedling stage in all situations where competition from other plants ('weeds') is a factor

Conservation Status

Global Status and Rationale

Global Threats

Pinus latteri faces a range of threats within its range countries. In Viet Nam the majority of higher altitude forests have been heavily exploited for timber and resin. Lower altitude forests have also been exploited but conversion of forests for agriculture have had a greater impact. A recent assessment of its national status indicated that it should be regarded as Endangered (Nguyen et al. 2004). In Lao PDR natural stands have also been exploited for timber and resin. In some areas such as the Nakai plateau they have been impacted by the development of hydro-electric schemes (P. Thomas unpubl. data). A national conservation assessment has yet to be undertaken. In Cambodia many stands have been logged for timber, degraded through resin tapping or converted for agriculture. Nationally this species has been identified as a priority species in need of immediate conservation intervention and appropriate protection (CTSP 2004). A similar situation exists in Thailand. The status of the subpopulations in Myanmar is uncertain.

Conservation Actions

This species is present in several protected areas throughout its range (e.g. Phou Koay Kwai in Lao PDR, Kiriom National Park in Cambodia) although this does not necessarily guarantee protection from encroachment for agriculture or logging or resin extraction. It is also the subject of forestry based ex situ conservation in places like Thailand. A full range wide survey is needed to be sure that this species does not qualify for a more threatened listing.