Cupressus dupreziana 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Cupressaceae

Scientific Name: Cupressus dupreziana A.Camus
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Saharan Cypress, Moroccan Cypress
French Cyprès de Duprez, Cyprès de l'Atlas
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2acd; B2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2012-03-07
Assessor(s): Abdoun, F., Gardner, M. & Griffiths, A.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
Cupressus dupreziana has two varieties: the typical variety in Algeria and var. atlantica in Morocco. Both have been assessed as Critically Endangered. In Algeria the assessment is based on the C criterion with a total known population of less than 250 individuals and a predicted 25% decline within the next generation (ca. 25 years). The extent of occurrence is estimated to be less than 1,000 km2. The area of occupancy has not been calculated but is highly unlikely to be more than 250 km2, given the small size of the population and its limited habitat. In Morocco the assessment is based on the B criterion with a limited extent of occurrence (ca. 40 km2), a single location and continuing decline. The actual area of occupancy is estimated to be 14.56 km2 while the total population is estimated to be at least 6,500 trees. In addition there has been a recent decline in the area of occupancy of 73%. In both cases there is a continuing decline in the quality of habitat. On the basis of this information, the species is assessed as Endangered under the B2 criterion where the total area of occupancy is less than 500 km2, there are fewer than five locations and there is a continuing decline in at least the quality of habitat. It is also assessed as Endangered under the A2 criterion on the basis that the 73% decline in the AOO of var. atlantica in Morocco is the equivalent of a 70-73% population reduction of the species.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is native to western North Africa in Algeria and Morocco:

(C. dupreziana var. dupreziana)
Regions of Maddak, Tassili-Hedjirit and Amiok. Limited to the southwest edge of the Tassili Plateau within the geographical regions of Maddak, Tassili-Hedjirit and Amiok. Here it has an altitudinal range of  between 1,430 and 1,830 m with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 1,000 km² (Abdoun and Beddiaf 2002). The area of occupancy is likely to be less than 500 km2 given the small population and limited habitat.

Morocco  (C. dupreziana var. atlantica)
Region of Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz and the Province of Marrakech. Here it occurs in the Oued n'Fiss Valley 60 km south of Marakech where there are a total eight sites. The extent of occurrence is estimated to 40 km2, based on recent herbarium specimens. The most recent estimate of the area of occupancy (AOO) is 14.58 km² (Achhal 1986).

These two subpopulations are over 1,500 km apart and have a combined area of occupancy of less than 500 km2.
Countries occurrence:
Algeria; Morocco
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:499Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Number of Locations:2-4
Lower elevation limit (metres):900
Upper elevation limit (metres):2220
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Restricted to an area 120 km in length and between 6 and 15 km wide and contains 46 sites. Trees occur as a few scattered individuals which survive on exposed mountainside sites or hidden in ravines, while, north and south of this zone trees occur in groups of four to fifteen together, mostly confined to the less accessible wadis (Abdoun and  Beddiaf 2002). In 1860 there were records of this species occurring 100 km further north than it is today (almost at latitude 26° N. from the Touaregs of Ghat) but by 1926 much of this range had become reduced.  Up until the 1940s it was thought that there were no more than ten living individuals, however by 1949 the population estimate increased to 200 (Abdoun and Beddiaf 2002) and today the number is 233 living trees. The population decline is estimated to be 8% over a period of 30 years (Abdoun and Beddiaf 2002). Natural regeneration of 2 to 3 trees per century is obviously not sufficient to sustain the population under current conditions.

Here it consists of a single subpopulation in a single location. A ground survey (using binoculars) of four of the eight known stands estimated that the number of individuals is at least 6,650 trees (Griffiths 1998). Estimates of the AOO indicates a reduction from c.55 km² (Boudy 1950) to only 14.58 km² (Achhal 1986) which over a 36 year period gives a reduction of ca 73% (Griffiths 1998).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Forms a monoecious, slow-growing tree 16-20 m tall. Trees of C. dupreziana var dupreziana over 7 m in girth appear in general to be over 2,000 years old, while those under 3 m would be less than 600 years old, however it does have the juvenile vigour comparable to other Mediterranean Cupressaceae (Abdoun et al. 2005). The altitudinal range is between 900-2,220 m

Trees grow on the summits of mountains or in the bottoms of valleys and gorges, where precipitation is estimated to be 30 mm per year (Dubief 1963). Sixty-eight percent of the trees are located in Wadi beds, 22% in rock (palaeozoic sandstone) fissures and 8% on ridges, there are very few associated species.


Grows in a temperate semi-arid to dry Mediterranean climate with periods of drought and snow.  All stands occur on steep-sided mountain slopes in an altitudinal range of between 1,000 and 2,200 m. The substrate is shale or schist and crystalline soils of granites and occasionally of calcareous soils which are unstable and constantly eroding (Bellefontaine 1979, Achhal 1986). Associated woody species include: Juniperus phoenicea and Tetraclinis articulata with the shrubs Lavandula dentata. var. dentata, L. maroccana, Launaea arborescens and Waronia saharae.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In Morocco, historically, the wood was utilized for making joists and beams in order to build houses and in the building of large gates for the entrances of old town walls (Bellefontaine 1979, Achhal 1986). The larger branches of the trees were utilized to make chairs and tables and other furniture and the smaller branches were collected during the summer and stored for winter feed for the local Berber herds of goats and donkeys. Today substantial amounts of seeds are collected annually for commercial horticulture. In Algeria the wood was highly valued for construction and carpentry and today the main use is for fuel.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The major threats which have contributed to decline of this species are fire, grazing, seed collecting, firewood collection and tourism. Climate change is now also having a negative effect on the population.

Algeria: Historically (from the mid 1850s onwards) caravans were organized to extract and transport the wood for carpentry and construction (Abdoun and Beddiaf 2002). Despite its adaptation to the extremely arid conditions of the Tassili Plateau, this species is under serious threat from climate change, fire and the collection of firewood. Tourists and the animals (horses and dromedaries) of the guides have also degraded the area due to excessive trampling. Grazing by the animals has again had a detrimental effect.  

Morocco: Threats include seed collecting, grazing and climate change. A survey undertaken by Griffiths in 1998 found that much damage was caused to the trees by local Berbers who were collecting seed unsustainably for commercial horticultural use in Marrakech. Grazing by goats and donkeys in all stands is on a large scale; such grazing pressures have had a detrimental effect on regeneration  (Bellefontaine 1979, Achhal 1986, Griffiths 1998). Germination tests concluded that the seeds from all sampled locations were viable but regeneration was hampered not only by excessive grazing but also by the steep, constantly eroding slopes. According to the Direction des Eaux et Forêts State the climate has changed noticeably over recent years with less rainfall and higher summer temperatures (Griffiths 1998).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Algeria
The sub-population is in Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, which has been designated a World Heritage Site, but despite this protection the sub-popualtion is in decline. There needs to be an increase in the number of National Park staff to protect the area and preventative measures put in place to stop the degradation of the trees and their environment and there is a considerable amount of work to be done in order to raise public awareness of this species. Organizations such as the National Institute of Forest Research have been harvesting seed, cultivating them in nurseries and establishing plantations. Recent research relating to regeneration and dendrology has improved our knowledge of its biology and should assist with its conservation.

Some conservation strategies have been implemented by the Direction des Eaux et Forêts including fencing off the sub-populations of Rikt and Achachi. At the former, some replanting has been carried out but due to lack of after care the survival rate has been low (Griffiths 1998). It is cultivated in botanic gardens and arboreta in Europe and the USA.

Citation: Abdoun, F., Gardner, M. & Griffiths, A. 2013. Cupressus dupreziana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T30325A2792650. . Downloaded on 21 June 2018.
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