Endemic to Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo where extreme droughts and tourism pose a potential fire hazzard.
Malaysia: Sabah (Mt. Kinabalu, Bukit Ampuan).
Nearly the entire population of this species is confined to Mt. Kinabalu, with only one small subpopulation known to the east on Bukit Ampuan. It is restricted to areas with ultramafic rock, which means that subpopulations are small and occur disjunctly, with intervening habitat that is less suitable or unsuitable. The specie's seeds are dispersed by birds but it is not known how far these propagules will be carried to connect the sub-populations, or if that interchange happens at all.
Habitat and Ecology
Podocarpus gibbsiae occurs on mountain ridges at altitudes between 1200 and 2400 metres above sea-level. in mossy forest within the cloud belt on Mt. Kinabalu. It appears to be confined to ultramafic soil derived from serpentine and similar rocks. This forest type has an open canopy up to 20–25 m tall and consists of a mixture of angiosperms and gymnosperms (mostly conifers); common conifers are Phyllocladus hypophyllus and Dacrydium gibbsiae. Epiphytes, from lichens, mosses, and ferns to orchids are numerous.
Virtually the entire global population occurs within the boundaries of Mt. Kinabalu National Park, which is one of the best managed and protected areas in Borneo
Despite the protection offered this species as most of the population is within a national park, potential risk remains due to increased tourism and a fire hazard. The area of occupancy (AOO) is here calculated on the basis of known distribution of herbarium collections to be around 20km² but could be less as some of the areas in which it occurs are quite small. Some are also remote from tourism, at least at present. Vulnerable using the D2 criterion, as in the previous assessment is warranted.
Although occurring within the cloud belt, exceptional spells of drought and the greatly increased tourism on Mt. Kinabalu pose a potential fire hazard, to which the species is not adapted.