Podocarpus macrocarpus de Laub.

Podocarpaceae

A very poorly known species endemic to the Philippines where it is thought that deforestation is the main threat

Distribution

Philippines: northern part of Luzon. This taxon has not been collected (and/or recognized in the field) since David de Laubenfels described it in 1978 except for two collections by him a year later in 1979. Consequently it is still only known from four localities. Either new collections or a thorough examination of (fertile) existing herbarium specimens are necessary to establish how common or rare this species is. The dot map (though small) in Flora Malesiana (de Laubenfels, 1988) shows five dots, including one in the far north of Luzon. It is not clear (explicit) on what these are based, as all the known collections (no more than 8 in various herbaria) are from a much more restricted area than the one suggested by this map. The extent of occurrence is estimated to be 1619km² with an area of occupancy estimated at 64km². Both estimates are based on a few herbarium collections.

Based on the known specimen collections in herbaria, this species occurs in four localities only. A decrease in the population is inferred from satellite maps showing deforestation in the general area of those localities.

Habitat and Ecology

Occurs as a scattered tree in tropical montane, evergreen cloud forest ("mossy forest") at 2000–2100 metres aboce sea-level.

Human Uses

In the Philippines, the wood of this species is used in the construction of small aeroplanes as a substitute for Sitka spruce; in musical instruments for sounding boards, for tennis rackets, and for pencils. It is not known to be in cultivation.

Conservation Status

Global status

Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,v)

This species (or infraspecific taxon if it turns out to be a variety of Podocarpus rumphii) is undoubtedly uncommon and very restricted in its occurrence. None of the four known localities are in protected areas and deforestation is encroaching on most of these. As the primary “mossy forest” declines, so must this species and its known extent of occurrence (1619km²) and area of occupancy (64km²) indicate the status of Endangered. Field surveys are urgent and taxonomic work is needed to firmly establish the status of this species. Its listing as EN should perhaps be seen as provisional at this stage. This species is not listed on the Philippines National Redlist (Fernando et al., 2008)

Global threats

In three of the four known localities Google Earth satellite imagery indicates encroachment of human habitation and roads as well as deforestation. One locality, Mt Santo Tomas, has a road to the summit where numerous radar and telephone masts are located. This peak is also a popualr hiking destination and the slopes have largely been cleared for small scale agriculture. From this it is inferred that the species, though possibly occurring in other localities not yet known, has undergone or is in decline as the forest it occurs in is in retreat. Its use as a special utility wood also means it will be cut selectively, further increasing pressure on the population of mature trees. None of the known localities is in a protected area.

Conservation Actions

Surveys are required to establish this species distribution and to determine its status within its known localities.