Abies nebrodensis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Abies nebrodensis
Species Authority: (Lojac.) Mattei
Common Name(s):
English Sicilian Fir
Abies pectinata Gilib. variety nebrodensis Lojac.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2009-11-26
Assessor(s): Thomas, P.
Reviewer(s): Farjon, A. & Bilz, M.
Contributor(s): Schicchi, R., Gardner, M. & Knees, S.
There are 24 mature trees in the current population. This very small population size means that it still meets the criteria for listing as Critically Endanger under Criterion D.
2006 Critically Endangered
1998 Critically Endangered

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, Monte Staircase, Monte dei Pini and Rosskopf, in the territory of the Municipality of Polizzi Generosa in the Madonie Mountains in the north-central part of Sicily.
Italy (Sicilia)
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 24 mature trees.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The species grows at around 1,500 m altitude on limestone soil.
Systems: Terrestrial

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: 1). This 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.

2). In situ: An EU LIFE funded project was carried out from 2001-2005. The immediate aim of the 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 30, while natural seedlings have increased from 30 to 80. These are still immature.

3). 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.

Bibliography [top]

Akeroyd, J. and Synge, H. 2001. Rare firs and fan-palms lead conservation in Sicily. Plant Talk 42: 26-30.

Ducci, F., Proietti, R. and Favre, J.-M. 1999. Allozyme assessment of genetic diversity within the relic Sicilian fir Abies nebrodensis (Lojac.). Mattei - Ann. For. Sci. 56: 345-355.

Farjon, A. and Page, C.N. (compilers) 1999. Conifers. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Conifer Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 16 June 2011).

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.

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.

Vendramin, G.G., Michelozzi, M., Tognetti, R. and Vicario, F. 1997. Abies nebrodensis (Lojac.) Mattei, a relevant example of a relic and highly endangered species. Bocconea 7: 383-388.

Virgilio, F., Schicchi, R. and La Mela Veca, D. 2000. Aggiornamento dell'inventario della popolazione relitta di Abies nebrodensis (Lojac.). Naturalista Siciliano 24 (1-2): 13-54.

Citation: Thomas, P. 2013. Abies nebrodensis. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 05 September 2015.
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