Abies nebrodensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Abies nebrodensis (Lojac.) Mattei
Common Name(s):
English Sicilian Fir
Abies pectinata Gilib. var. nebrodensis Lojac.
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2cd; D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-03-15
Assessor(s): Thomas, P.
Reviewer(s): Troia, A. & Allen, D.J.
Contributor(s): Domina, G., Gardner, M., Knees, S., Schicchi, R. & Bilz, M.
This tree is restricted to the Madonie Mountains in the north-central part of Sicily, Italy. There are 32 adult trees in the current population. This very small population size means that it still meets the criteria for listing as Critically Endangered under Criterion D, and under criteria A (A2cd) on the basis of past population decline.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Despite its scientific name, the Sicilian Fir (Abies nebrodensis) does not grow in the Nebrodi Mountains, but is presently limited to the steep, dry slopes between Vallone Madonna degli Angeli, Mt. Scalone, Mt. Pene and Mt. Cavallo, in the territory of the Municipality of Polizzi Generosa in the Madonie Mountains in the north-central part of Sicily. Conservation reafforestation activities have extended the distribution of this species between 700 to 2,000 m asl (G. Domina pers. comm. 2016).
Countries occurrence:
Italy (Sicilia)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:4Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:4
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):1250
Upper elevation limit (metres):1700
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The Madonie Mountains, rising to 1,979 m, were once covered by A. nebrodensis. By 1900, the species was considered extinct, due to extensive logging and erosion, but was rediscovered in 1957. The current population consists of 25 fertile trees out of 32 adult trees, and about 155 young plants (Schicchi et al. 2014) and conservation reafforestation is increasing the number of individuals (G. Domina pers. comm. 2016).
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:25Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species grows up to around 2,000 m altitude on bare soils mostly deriving from quartzitic sandstones. The habitat, characterized by the species presence is listed within Annex I of the Habitats Directive (9220: Apennine beech forests with Abies alba and beech forests with Abies nebrodensis) (EUNIS 2016).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Generation Length (years):300-500

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The tree is not currently utilised, but was subject in the past to logging.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The principal threat facing this species is the small population size. It will continue to be dependent on on-going conservation measures, especially fire suppression and habitat improvement.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The tree has been assessed as CR both nationally (C. Montagnani pers. comm. 2016) and globally. The species is included in Appendix I of the Bern Convention and as a priority species in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive. The woodland vegetation in which this species is found is listed in Annex I of the same Directive. The species occurs within the following Natura 2000 sites (EUNIS 2016);
  • ITA020004 Monte S. Salvatore, Monte Catarineci, Vallone Mandarini, ambienti umidi (under the Habitats Directive).
  • ITA020050 Parco delle Madonie (under the Birds Directive).
The species has been the focus of both in situ and ex situ conservation efforts;

In situ: An EU LIFE funded project was undertaken from 2001-2005 (Raimondo and Schicchi 2005, Silva et al. 2008), followed by a nationally funded (Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning; CIPE) project (Conservation of Abies nebrodensis and peatlands of Geraci Siculo). The immediate aim of the LIFE project was to stabilize the existing population and improve the survival rate of natural seedlings and planted trees raised as part of an ex situ programme. Wider aims included the elimination of non-indigenous fir species and the restoration of the natural ecosystem. All work has been carried out within the boundaries of the Madonie Regional Park. The number of trees has increased from 24 to 32, while natural seedlings have increased from 30 to 155. These are still immature.

Ex situ: An extensive ex situ programme has been in place for a number of years with trees planted in the Botanical Garden of Palermo (Italy) as well as in summer villas and second homes in the Madonie Mountains, slightly apart from their natural area of distribution. They have also been distributed to other botanic gardens and arboreta in Europe. A programme of controlled pollination instigated as part of the EU LIFE funded project has resulted in the production of an additional 3,000 plants for reinforcing the existing population.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.8. Shrubland - Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):100
  Area based regional management plan:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
  Included in international legislation:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

EUNIS. 2016. Biodiversity Database. Available at: http://eunis.eea.europa.eu/.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-2. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 14 September 2017).

Raimondo, F.M. and Schicchi, R. 2005. Rendiconto sul progetto LIFE Natura n° LIFE2000NAT/IT/7228 “Conservazione in situ ed ex situ di Abies nebrodensis (Lojac.) Mattei”. Tipolitografia Luxograph, Palermo.

Schicchi, R., Amato, F., La Placa, G. and Bonomo, G. 2014. Population trend in Abies nebrodensis (Lojac.) Mattei. International Plant Science Conference “From Nature to Technological Exploitations”. 109° Congresso della Società Botanica Italiana, Florence. Florence, 2-5 September 2014.

Silva, J.P., Toland, J., Jones, W., Eldridge, J., Thorpe, E., Campbell, M. and O’Hara, E. 2008. LIFE and Europe’s endangered plants: Italy: Conserving the ‘critically endangered’ Sicilian fir and helping to ensure its long-term survival. Environment Directorate-General, European Commission, Luxembourg.

Citation: Thomas, P. 2017. Abies nebrodensis. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T30478A91164876. . Downloaded on 21 June 2018.
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