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Cedrus libani

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES PINACEAE

Scientific Name: Cedrus libani
Species Authority: A.Rich.
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Cedar of Lebanon, Lebanon Cedar
French Cèdre du Liban
Taxonomic Notes: The names Cedrus libani  var. stenocoma (O.Schwarz) Frankis and Cedrus libani  subsp. stenocoma (O.Schwarz) P.H.Davis have sometimes been used to differentiate the Turkish subpopulation. The trees in Turkey tend to have a more upright habit which may in part be as a result of the common practice of repeatedly cutting branches for fire wood (pers. obs.). This species is closely related to Cedrus brevifolia which is sometimes included as a variety of Cedrus libani (Farjon, 2010)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-07-21
Assessor(s): Gardner, M.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P.
Justification:
The area of occupancy (AOO) of 1,024.5 km2  does not take into account the two remnant locations in the Black Sea region of Turkey but it is assumed that these will not take the AOO over the 2,000 km2 threshold for Vulnerable B2. In total there are slightly more than 10 locations - one in Cypress, two in Lebanon, one in Syria and seven in Turkey. The population is severely fragmented, particularly the Syrian and Lebanese subpopulations. The area of occupancy, the quality of habitat is in decline and there is a loss of mature individuals particularly in the areas outside of Cypress due to a range of detrimental factors including: grazing by goats, urbanization, selective cutting, pest infestation and severe damage in some of the Lebanese forests due to winter sports. So the species as a whole qualifies for a Vulnerable listing.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Occurs in the mountains adjacent to the northeastern Mediterranean coast in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and western Cypress.

Turkey: the main subpopulation runs from the western Taurus Mountains, east to the province of Hayat with two small remnant subpopulations in the Black Sea region of at elevations of 700–1,400 m (Boydak 1996). It has an estimated actual area of occupancy (AOO) of 993 km² (Khuri et al. (1999).

Syria: there is one reported subpopulation in the north, on the eastern side of Jabal an-Nusayriya. This is at an elevation of between 1,200–1,850 m and has an actual AOO of 1.5 km2 (Khouzami 1994).

Lebanon: it has a wider distribution than in Syria and occurs along the Mount Lebanon chain in more or less two subpopulations; one in the south, which includes the Maaser el Shouf and in the north the important site of Horsh Ehden (Talhouk, 2001). The actual AOO of Cedrus libani in Lebanon is 22 km2 (Talhouk 2001).

Cypress: Restricted to the Tripylos area in Paphos State Forest (AOO is less than 8 km2) in the Troodos Mountains (800 to 1,400 m) in western Cyprus (Tsintides et al. 2007, Eliades 2008).

 

Countries:
Native:
Cyprus; Lebanon; Syrian Arab Republic; Turkey
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The largest stands are in southern Turkey in the Taurus Mountains where there are extensive forests occurring from Boz Mountain (Acipayam) in the west and Ahir and Nur (Amanos) mountains in the east. Its distribution continues towards the southern boundary of Inner Anatolia (Atalay and Recep 2010). Approximately one third of these forests are in a degraded state (Boydak 1996). In Lebanon the subpopulation is in the form of 15 fragmented stands, more than half of which have an area of occupancy of less than 1 km2 and are in a state of severe degradation (Talhouk 2001). In Syria the species forms isolated pockets on the crest of Djebel Ansarieh (Rolley n.s.). There are five separate stands in Cypress, the largest at Triplyos comprises about 16,000 mature individuals (Eliades 2008).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Usually occurs on north and westerly-facing slopes at elevations between 1,300 and 3,000 m, but in Turkey it can occur as low as 500 m (Atalay and Recep 2010). Soils are well drained and usually calcareous although in Lebanon trees do occur on sandstone formations (Talhouk 2001).  The climate is of cool and moist winters with abundant snow at higher elevations. In Cypress, Turkey and Lebanon it can occur in pure stands, but more often it is associated with the conifers Abies cilicica, Juniperus excelsa and J. oxycedrus. At lower elevations it is associated with Pinus nigra and Pinus brutia. Commonly associated broadleaved species include: Quercus cerris, Sorbus torminalis, and Prunus ursina (Talhouk 2001). In Syria it occurs in a degraded mixed forest with oak, pine and fir (Khouzami 1994). In Cypress it is often associated with Pinus brutia and Quercus alnifolia and mixed forest with Platanus orientalis. In Cypress, good seed crops are typically produced once every five to seven year and there is a 50-60 % seed viability.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Historically, the timber was been much used for shipbuilding and for the construction of temples. In Lebanon there is a limited amount of exploitation through the demand for ornaments made from cedar wood (Khuri and Talhouk 1999) in spite of the protection that these forests are afforded. Used in reforestation programmes in the Troodos Mountains in Cypress. Internationally it is sometimes used as an ornamental tree and in research programmes.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The most threatened subpopulations are those in Lebanon and Syria where there has been a long history of forest destruction. It is estimated that only 5% of the original forest in these two countries remains today (WWF and IUCN 1994). In Lebanon there has been a recent decline in the forest in Tannourine due to the insect Cephalcia tannourinensis. The weakened trees are then attacked by two further pests which belong to the genera Ernobius and Dasineura (Talhouk 2001). The Lebanese forests of Shouf are being debilitated by the cedar moth (Dichelia sp.). Further threats in Lebanon include urbanization, selective felling for use in the craft industry, severe damage from the activities of winter sports and grazing by goats (Khuri and Talhouk 1999). 
In Cypress, the main threats are fire and possibly climate changes. Because of the narrow distribution of this species, one fire has the potential of destroying most, if not the entire population. More recently, research has shown a direct correlation between decreasing annual rainfall and canopy die-back. Debilitated trees have also become prone to insect attack (Christou et al. 2001).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Many Cedrus libani forests are in protected areas yet they still suffer from degradation. All remnant forests in Lebanon are protected, including the cedars of Bsharre which are now in a World Heritage Site containing a small stand of the oldest and largest cedar specimens known (Beals 1965). Despite laws forbidding damage to the cedar trees there is little enforcement; encroachment by housing development is a serious threat to the trees.  In Turkey the testing topography of the Taurus mountains together with the forestry infrastructure have greatly aided the preservation of remnant forests (Khuri and Talhouk 1999). Here there have also been extensive planting projects, for example between 1994 and 1996, 5,750 ha of cedar trees were planted, some of which are outside the natural range of the species (Boydak 1996). The small fragmented stand in Syria is part of the 'Cedar-Fir Protected Area'. Seed set is low and there is evidence of insect damage to the cones (Musselman 1999). In Lebanon and Syria a more integrated and better coordinated approach (such as exists in Turkey) is needed. Particular attention is needed in conserving old-growth stands which will soon be lost through poor regeneration and natural death as such stands are important sources of genetic material for reforestation and habitat restoration (Khuri and Talhouk 1999).
In Cypress all the stands have recently been declared as Natura 2000 Sites while some were designated as National Nature Reserves in 1984 and 2000. All human activities and grazing are excluded from the native stands. There is an effective fire protection system in place and a permanent monitoring plan. Gene banks have also been established in the form of ex situ conservation plantations.

Citation: Gardner, M. 2013. Cedrus libani. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 16 September 2014.
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