Abies cilicica 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Abies cilicica (Antoine & Kotschy) Carrière
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Cilician Fir, Syrian fir
Pinus cilicia Antoine & Kotschy
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-05-09
Assessor(s): Gardner, M. & Knees, S.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
Abies cilicica has a relatively wide distribution in Turkey, Lebanon and Syria with an estimated area of occupancy of 3,397 km2. The small subpopulations of the typical subspecies in Lebanon and Syria are both heavily degraded and should be considered Critically Endangered at the national level. The Mediterranean vegetation of southern Turkey, especially the montane areas, is considered to be at high risk from climate change (Ozturk 2010). Records clearly show that summer temperatures are rising and in the last five decades the annual rainfall has decreased significantly. These trends are creating an increased risk of fire, and are also contributing to a decrease in the general health of the trees which in turn makes them more vulnerable to pathogen attack. The Taurus Mountains are also seeing a big increase in the number of tourist which also increases the risk of forest fire (Ozturk 2010). If these negative trends continue then this species could qualify for Vulnerable under the subcriteria for B2. However, at this stage an assessment of Near Threatened better reflects its relatively limited area of occupancy and the current extent of decline.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Occurs in the mountains adjacent to the northeastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Area of occupancy (AOO) = 3,397 km2.

Turkey Population runs along the length of the Taurus Mountains with an estimated AOO of  3,374 km2 (Bozkus 1998). The subpopulation is divided into two subspecies within the Taurus Mountains; the smaller, western area with A. cilicica subsp. isaurica and the larger eastern area with A. cilicica subsp. cilicica.

Syria  A small subpopulation at Slenfch (Lattakia) with an AOO of 13.5 km2 (Government of Syria 1995).

Lebanon restricted to the northern part of the Mount Lebanon range, and reaches its southernmost limit in the forest of Horshe Ehden. It has a limited and fragmented distribution in three locations (Ehden forest, Qammoua mountain, Ain Toffaha NE of Seer Eddeniyea) with an AOO of 10 km² (Talhouk et al. 2001).  

Countries occurrence:
Lebanon; Syrian Arab Republic; Turkey
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:3397.5
Lower elevation limit (metres):1200
Upper elevation limit (metres):2000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Although there are no accurate figures, historically Abies cilicica (along with its commonly associated species Cedrus libani) has suffered a significant decrease in its area of occupancy in Lebanon and Syria. In Lebanon much of the forest destruction occurred in the 16th century (when logging became an alternative form of tax payments, and as a result increased uncontrollably) and further felling occurred during World War I (Talhouk 2001). In Turkey, although there has been a decrease in the forest cover, this has been on a much lesser scale.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Abies cilicica has an altitudinal range of 1,000- 2,000 m.s.l. (Davis 1965). In Turkey it can form pure forests (640 km2; Bozkus 1988)), but throughout its  range it mainly occurs in mixed forests (1,733 km2; Bozkus 1988)), mostly with Cedrus libani. In Turkey it can be associated with Juniperus excelsa, J. oxycedrus, Populus tremula and Quercus libani, while in Syria it grows with Ostrya carpinifolia, Carpinus orientalis, Sorbus torminalis, Fraxinus ornus and Cerasus mahleb (Browicz 1982). It favours calcareous substrates which are shallow, rocky and well drained.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is local trade in timber from this species. The wood is used for indoor construction mainly as plywood.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Lebanon - Very fragmented and degraded due to present-day pressures from urbanization and associated development and historically due to the wood being used for building railways. The forest of Qammoua is one of many examples of ongoing over-exploitation of forests in marginalized rural areas with villagers cutting large quantities of wood for fuel and grazing their livestock in the forest for most of the year. (Beals 1965, Talhouk et al. 2001). The latter is a large and degraded Cilician Fir subpopulation covering an area of over 10 km2 (Talhouk et al. 2001). The species is considered to having a low natural adaptive capacity to current and future trends as far as Climate Change is concerned (Ministry of Environment 2011). Illegal logging and poor forest management are further threats to the forest (Ministry of Environment 2011).

Syria - This small coastal forest is very degraded due to urbanization, fires, small-scale logging and grazing by goats and because of all these negative factors the forest is in urgent need of protection (Government of Syria 1995).

Turkey - These forests are under less threat than those in Lebanon and Syria, however, large areas of forest are in a state of degradation. For example, 44% of the pure stand forests and 86% of the mixed stand forests are degraded (Bozkus 1988). Much of this has been caused by over-grazing of feral goats. They are particularly destructive as they damage seedlings and young shoots abd areas where they have grazed cannot easily regenerate (McGinley 2008). Other threats include fire (partially as a result of an increase in tourism in the Taurus Mountains) and pathogen attack.  There have also been reports of sudden mortality in A. cilicica subsp. isaurica (Carus 2010) and a general decline in forest health due to the impacts of higher summer temperatures and decreased precipitation that have been attributed to global warming (Ozturk 2010).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Abies cilicica is protected in a National Parks throughout its range. Examples of protected areas are: Lebanon: Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve; Turkey: Kovada Lake National Park; Olimpos-Beydağları National Park. Syria: Latakia Reserve.

Citation: Gardner, M. & Knees, S. 2013. Abies cilicica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T42275A2968944. . Downloaded on 26 May 2018.
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