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Juniperus tibetica

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES CUPRESSACEAE

Scientific Name: Juniperus tibetica
Species Authority: Kom.
Common Name(s):
English Tibetan Juniper

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-01-26
Assessor(s): Farjon, A.
Reviewer(s): Adams, R & Thomas, P.
Justification:
Increased pressure both on the trees themselves and on their habitat by an increasing population, in conjunction with slow growth in extreme edaphic and climatic conditions, cause this species to be assessed as Vulnerable (the area of occupancy is small (1,175 km²), the population severely fragmented and there is continuing decline due to over-use).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Endemic to China: S Gansu, SE Qinghai, Sichuan, S and E Xizang [Tibet].
Countries:
Native:
China (Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet [or Xizang])
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is very scattered in many areas.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Juniperus tibetica is a species that forms groves or small forests at high altitudes, often together with J. convallium. The altitudinal range is 2,600-4,780(-4,900) m a.s.l. These woods are often grazed by cattle (yaks) and degraded, being transformed into parkland with mats of Cyperaceae and low grasses and herbs, or further to Berberis-Juniperus scrub and Artemisia steppe. At lower altitudes it may occur in clearings of Picea forest, usually on S-facing slopes; at the tree limit, where it may be the only species, it returns to south-facing slopes indicating that temperature is the limiting factor. Locally it occurs in open stands of Cupressus torulosa var. gigantea. It occurs on rocky slopes and ridges, as well as old gravel terraces, on rocky soils from siliceous as well as calcareous parent material. The climate, mostly in the monsoon shadow of the main crest of the Himalayas, is continental with extremes of solar radiation and frost.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: As the principal high altitude tree in large parts of Xizang [Tibet] and adjacent areas, this species is an important source of wood to local people, who use it for firewood and on a limited scale for other purposes, such as incense in Buddhist rituals. Increased population pressures in recent decades have resulted in shortages of a resource that renews itself only very slowly. It is rare in cultivation; seeds were collected by Joseph Rock in southern Gansu in 1926 (and distributed under the synonym J. distans); plants raised in the UK grew into a columnar habit with light green leaves. Recent seed collections from Tibet by Georg and Sabine Miehe have germinated in the Botanic Garden of the University of Göttingen in Germany. This tree forming species should be grown more widely.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is widespread but there is, however, considerable pressure from both direct uses by indigenous peoples (firewood in particular) as from grazing by domestic animals, which are likely to increase and have a detrimental effect on regeneration and possibly its long term survival in many areas (G. & S. Miehe pers. comm.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Few trees are under protection where growing on sacred (Buddhist) sites. Field studies and community engagement projects have been undertaken with the help of researchers from the University of Marburg, Germany (Georg and Sabine Miehe) to assess the situation and try to find alternatives for destructive use of trees and habitat. Larger, and well managed/policed reserves, are urgently needed.

Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Juniperus tibetica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 September 2014.
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