Tsuga forrestii Downie

Pinaceae

Endemic to a few mountains in SW China where it has undergone a significant population reduction in the recent past

Associated Names:

Description

Taxonomic Notes

This species is closely related to Tsuga dumosa and Tsuga chinensis and shows intermediate characters. It occurs in the area where the ranges of these two species meet: the Lijiang Shan and mountains to the northwest (NW Yunnan) and north (SW Sichuan). In Flora of China 4: 41 (1999), T. forrestii has been treated as a variety of T. chinensis.

Distribution

Endemic to China: NE Guizhou (Jiangkou: Fanjing Shan), SW Sichuan, and NW Yunnan.

Appears to be fairly widespread but scattered. The population has probably undergone a significant reduction (30-49%) in the recent past due to exploitation.

Habitat and Ecology

Like the other two species occurring on the SW Plateau of China, T. forrestii is a high mountain species occurring between 2,000 m and 3,500 m a.s.l. The soils are mostly podzolized. The climate is temperate to cold temperate, with annual precipitation between 1,000 mm and 2,000 mm. It is a constituent of the montane boreal coniferous forest formation, where it is mixed with Abies spp., Picea spp., Larix potaninii, occasionally Pseudotsuga sinensis, Cephalotaxus fortunei, and broad-leaved trees, e.g. Betula albosinensis, Acer spp., Sorbus spp. Quercus spp., and Magnolia spp. Tsuga forrestii remains in most places a minor component of the forest (Wang 1961).

Human Uses

Forrest's Hemlock is a timber tree used for construction, aircraft, furniture and as props for mines. This species is present in several arboreta in Europe and North America, almost exclusively from early 20th century introductions made by the famous 'plant hunters' of the time.

Conservation Status

Global status

Vulnerable A2cd

Although there is no direct information available, it seems reasonable given what has happened in this part of China to suspect a 30-49% population reduction in the past three generations (60-75 years) as a result of direct exploitation of the species for its wood and also because of general forest clearance for timber and expanding agriculture. The species is therefore listed as Vulnerable, but could well qualify for Endangered if more information were available on the degree of population reduction. The reduction has now been reduced significantly by the logging ban imposed by the Chinese Government in 2001, but illegal exploitation may well be continuing at a low level.

This species has a limited range separated into two or three disjunct areas. Deforestation and logging have substantially reduced the area of occupancy (AOO) of this species.

Conservation Actions

The Government of China has recently imposed a ban on logging in China. This species occurs in a few protected areas.