Abies guatemalensis var. guatemalensis 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Abies guatemalensis var. guatemalensis
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Guatemalan Fir
Spanish Pinabere, Pashaque, Romerillo
Abies guatemalensis Rehd. variety tacanensis (Lundell) Martínez
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
Taxonomic Notes: This variety (following Farjon 2010) now includes A. guatemalensis var. tacanensis which was assessed previously as a separate variety on the IUCN Red List.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2acd; B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2012-07-22
Assessor(s): Gardner, M.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.

Historically A. guatemalensis var. guatemalensis has been an important timber tree and as a result considerable loss of forest cover has occurred which is estimated to be ca. 50% over three generations (a generation here is estimated to 25–30 years). The loss of forest due to logging still continues today but at a slower rate. The recent trend of using the species for Christmas decorations in Guatemala and expanding urbanization has added to its decline. The area of occupancy of what remains has been estimated as being 270 km2 which is well within the threshold of 500 km2 for being classified as ‘Endangered’. This estimate is based on 258 km2 given by Andersen et al. (2006) for 92 of the 119 known forests plus an estimate of between 0.15 and 0.20 km2 for the remaining 26 forests. Deforestation has caused severe fragmentation and there continues to be a decline in the extent of occurrence and area of occupancy which has led to the loss of some locations and a mature individuals. This variety has therefore been assessed as being ‘Endangered’ under the A2 and B2 criteria.


Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Endemic to Central America where it occurs in: El Salvador: Departmentos; Chalatenango; Guatemala: Departmentos; Chimaltenango, El Progreso, Huehuetenano, Jalapa, San Marcos, Sololá, Totonicapán, Quetzaltenango and Quiché; Hondurus: Departmentos; Copán, Lempira, Ocotepeque and Santa Barbara; Mexico: Estados: Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca and Tamaulipas.
Countries occurrence:
El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico (Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There has been a marked decrease in the population of Abies guatemalensis var. guatemalensis, particularly in Guatemala where most of the population is represented. Up until the 19th century Abies g. var. guatemalensis was still plentiful in the western highlands of Guatemala and locally widespread in the 1940s, however, by the late 1950s most stands had been heavily exploited except for a small number of sites on national lands where cutting is prohibited (Standley and Steyermark 1958).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Forms a tall tree 35-40 m tall and 1-1.5 m dbh. A. guatemalensis var. guatemalensis is usually associated with several highland conifers, such as A. religiosa, Cupressus lusitanica, Pinus ayacahuite, P. hartwegii, P. michoacana, P. montezumae and P. pseudostrobus. At lower elevations Arbutus spp., Juniperus spp. and Quercus spp. co-occur and open forest stands are dominated by Arbutus xalapensis, Baccharis vaccinioides, Cestrum guatemalense, Litsea glaucescens, Rubus trilobus, Salvia cinnabarina and Sambucus mexicana. A. guatemalensis is usually sparsely distributed and monospecific stands occur rarely. Cone production can be irregular Veblen (1976), however, in Guatemala, plenty of regeneration of both saplings and seedlings has been observed (U.S. Andersen pers. obs.) and CAMCORE (1985) claim that good seed crops occur every second or third year.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The straight stems and the relatively soft wood make the species highly valued by local woodcutters for various construction purposes but it is also used for making shingles and tools, and for charcoal production (Standley and Steyermark 1958).   A more recent utilization is the harvest of Christmas trees and greenery, i.e. branches for decorative purposes and recent market surveys in Guatemala City reveals that artificial trees constitute the highest income source for traders compared to other Christmas products traded.  It has been estimated that around 70% of the artificial Christmas trees are made from branches using A. guatemalensis var. guatemalensis.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Abies guatemalensis has a long history of exploitation as valuable timber and for charcoal production, and thus the remaining populations are restricted to a few remote mountain ranges with some protection in national parks or nature reserves (Andersen et al. 2006). However, illegal logging (which strongly inhibits natural regeneration)  still takes place and a recent trend of using the species for Christmas decorations has become a market-driven incentive for poaching (Andersen et al. 2006).  In Guatemala and El Salvador, the highest human populations densities coincide with the main distribution of A. guatemalensis, which is having a negative impact on the remaining forest fragments. In contrast, considerable intact forests remain in Honduras, however, the variety is still being negatively affected by logging, forest pasture and clearing for agriculture (Andersen et al. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Felling is prohibited in some countries and the species is listed in CITES Appendix I. Although the model of strict protection, for example in national parks or nature reserves, may work in developed countries, it is problematic in poor countries where local communities make a livelihood from exploitation of natural resources, therefore, future conservation of Abies gutemalensis has to develop strategies, which work with the local people and give them clear benefits from conservation measures (Andersen et al. 2006). There needs to be a long-term sustainable management plan put in place in collaboration with local communities which should include supplying large quantities of sustainably produced greenery to the market and so reducing the potential of poaching within protected sites.

Citation: Gardner, M. 2013. Abies guatemalensis var. guatemalensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T46186032A2795168. . Downloaded on 30 November 2015.
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