Podocarpus sprucei Parl

Podocarpaceae

Populations in Ecuador and northern Perú are declining due to heavy exploitation of mature trees for timber

Distribution

Ecuador, northern Perú (Piura).

Habitat and Ecology

Podocarpus sprucei is a high montane to subalpine species growing in cloud forest up to the tree line, at altitudes from 1800m to 3900m above sea-level. Only in forests at lower altitudes does it become a tree to 20m tall.

Human Uses

The wood of this species is much in demand and trees are logged from primary forest often unsustainably due to scarcity and slow growth. It is used in house construction and to make furniture as it takes a fine polish. This species is also planted as an ornamental in parks in Ecuador

Conservation Status

Global status

Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,v)

Global rationale

Heavy exploitation of mature trees for timber, ongoing since at least 1945, is causing a continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO) and number of mature individuals. Due to a limited AOO here calculated as ca. 350km² with 5km grid squares around 14 localities and this decline it meets the necessary criteria under B2 for Endangered.

Global threats

Overexploitation for timber has been a problem since at least 1945. Selective felling, not only of this species, leads to forest degradation and is followed by the conversion of forest for agriculture and pastoralism. Remaining forests are increasingly fragmented. Few trees remain in Peru (Vicuña-Miñano, 2005) and there have been significant declines in Ecuador (Kuptz, 2010).

Conservation Actions

This species is present in Chimborazo National Park, Equador. A limited amount of research has been initiated to examine the possibilites of enrichment plantings within degraded areas (Kuptz, 2010).