Podocarpus lophatus de Laub.

Podocarpaceae

Restricted to two mountains in the Philippines where mining and deforestation are potential threats

Distribution

Philippines: currently, this species is only known from herbarium specimens collected near the summit of Mt. Tapulao in Luzon and Mt Halcon in Mindoro.

This species is only known from two (sub)populations on two mountains on different large islands. It remains poorly known and may well occur on other mountains; it may not have been recognized as distinct from e.g. P. pilgeri, which has similar leaves and can be a shrub as well as a large tree.

Habitat and Ecology

Podocarpus lophatus is a species of mountain summits and upper slopes, where it occurs in 'heath', scrubland and upper montane, low canopy mossy forest. Its altitudinal range is from 1800 to 2585 metres above sea-level (the summit of Mt. Halcon). On Mt. Halcon it is very common; its abundance in the type locality on Mt. Tapulao is not mentioned.

Conservation Status

Global status

Vulnerable D2

Global rationale

Known from two locations: Mt Tapulao on Luzon and Mt Halcon on Mindoro. Although the lower slopes and some parts of the summit area of Mt Tapulao have been disturbed in the past through chromite mining, the extent that this has effected this species is uncertain. On Mt Halcon, the upper forests where this species is relatively common is still intact. Due to its restricted distribution, P. lophatus is assessed as Vulnerable under criterion D2. Further field surveys are required to establish the extent of its distribution and the status of its populations. This species remains poorly known both taxonomically and in terms of its distribution.

Global threats

Although no immediate threats are putting this species in danger of extinction, the fact that it is still only known from two separate mountains in the Philippines, at one of which at least it was said to be abundant in 1995, puts it under the D criterion as within a threatened category. On Mt. Halcon deforestation and logging (‘pit-sawing’) effect most of the eastern slopes below 1,000 m. The upper low-canopy forest is still intact. On Mt. Tapulao past mining activity (chrome and other metals) has caused destruction of the vegetation in the summit area and has likely impacted this (sub)population.

Conservation Actions

Neither of the two mountains are officially protected although Mt. Tapulao has been proposed as a Protected Area for Eco-Tourism. This would also involve the banning of any further mining. Mt. Halcon is the “domain” of an indigenous tribe who have rights to its use (i.e. exploitation of natural resources).