Podocarpus archboldii N.E.Gray

Podocarpaceae

Distributed throughout the island of New Guinea and is in decline due to logging for its valuable wood

Distribution

New Guinea; distributed across the island, but collections in western New Guinea (Papua) are restricted to the Idenburg River drainage and the Kebar Valley in the Bird’s Head Peninsula. It is scattered in the highlands of Papua New Guinea with most collections made in the Morobe District.

This species is said to be common locally, but it is uncertain whether in that assessment, other species were included, as identification is not easy without fertile material. The global population is widespread but appears to be very localized, although effects of under-collecting in Papua may play a part in this judgement. Logging of large trees will presumably have a negative effect on reproduction.

Habitat and Ecology

Podocarpus archboldii is a canopy tree occurring scattered or locally common in evergreen tropical montane forest. The altitudinal range is (720–)1500–2600 metres above sea-level. The largest trees occur in closed forests dominated by Castanopsis spp. with a canopy to 50m tall; trees become smaller and stunted in 'mossy forest' which often occurs on mountain ridge tops over rocky terrain. Here soils are less well developed and other conifers, e.g. Agathis labillardierei, Dacrydium novo-guineense, Falcatifolium papuanum, Papuacedrus papuana, and Retrophyllum vitiense, may join Podocarpus archboldii, while angiosperms become less dominant

Human Uses

A valuable timber tree especially when it attains large sizes with a clear, straight bole. Its wood is used as roundwood for masts, spars and poles, in house construction as beams, in high-grade construction for flooring, joinery and other carpentry, for furniture and cabinet work, veneer, to make boxes, and for match sticks. Its traditional uses include village house contruction, household utensils and wood carving. This species has been found either spared from the forest or planted in village dancing grounds.

Conservation Status

Global status

Vulnerable B2ab(v)

Global rationale

Podocarpus archboldii, although is has a wide distribution, is limited in ca. ten known locations and very likely has an area of occupancy of less than 2000km² (calculation based on known herbarium collections, using a 10km grid to compensate for unknown localities). Its logging history and potential utility makes it likely that there is a continuing decline of large mature trees in those areas of its distribution that have been intensively logged. The planting of individual trees in villages may indicate that is has become rare in the surrounding countryside. Under these circumstances the species meets the B2 criteria for Vulnerable.

Global threats

Because it can reach 40+ metres tall and 1.5 m diameter at breast height, it is sometimes exploited for its timber. As podocarps grow slowly, this is unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. In heavily logged areas in Papua New Guinea. it is likely that a decline has occurred, but there are no available data to quantify this. It is likely to continue to decline in future as the demand is continuing. Export of round-wood from Papua New Guinea is banned by law, so most logs will be taken to local sawmills.

Conservation Actions

This species is not recorded from any protected area.