Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Pinus sylvestris
Species Authority: L.
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Scots Pine
French Pin sylvestre
Pinus sylvestris L. variety cretacea (Kalen.) Kom.
Pinus sylvestris L. variety nevadensis (Christ) Heyw.
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
Taxonomic Notes: More than 50 botanical varieties have been described for this species. Farjon (2010), only recognizes three of these. The typical variety is very widespread, from Scotland to Russian Far East. Pinus sylvestris var. hamata Steven is restricted to the Ukraine, Caucasus and Turkey. Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica Litv. is found in northern China, Mongolia and around Lake Baikal in Siberia. None of the varieties are considered to be threatened and are hence not assessed separately.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-01-31
Assessor(s): Gardner, M.
Reviewer(s): Luscombe, D & Thomas, P.
This is the most widespread of all pines, occupying many millions of hectares across Eurasia. Its tremendous distribution and large population size leads to an assessment of Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1998 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Widespread across Eurasia: from N Spain and Scotland in the west to the Russian Far East, from Lapland in the north to Turkey in the south.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Armenia (Armenia); Austria; Azerbaijan; Bulgaria; China (Heilongjiang, Jilin, Nei Mongol); Czech Republic; Estonia; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Italy; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia (Serbia); Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; Ukraine (Krym); United Kingdom
Lower elevation limit (metres): 1
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2600
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Locally abundant and dominant in many areas.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Across its enormous range Pinus sylvestris grows naturally in a variety of habitats, the common denominator of which is deficiency of nutrients in the soil. Thus on the Atlantic seaboard with high levels of precipitation it occupies ancient igneous or metamorphic rocks with little or no soil in Scotland and Norway up to 70º N, while south of the Baltic Sea it grows on podzolized glacial sands left after the Ice Age. In the central Alps it is restricted to the drier slopes and valleys below other conifers like Larix and Picea, while in the Caucasus it ascends to 2,600 m on rocky outcrops and scree. In much of Siberia it occupies the drier sites, but in Scandinavia and NE Europe it often borders acidic peat bogs. In the steppes of Russia and Mongolia it occurs only along stream courses. Pinus sylvestris most commonly forms open pine forests and woodlands but in many areas it is associated with conifers like Picea, Larix, Juniperus and with broad-leaved trees, especially Betula spp. and Populus tremula. In old growth stands there is often a well developed ground cover of Vaccinium spp. or Empetrum nigrum in Atlantic regions, and such pine forests are rich in mycorrhizal fungi.
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: No
Generation Length (years): 20

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Scots Pine is an important timber tree, but most of the production goes to the paper industry. In the past it was more often put to use as mining props and for interior construction; such uses are still common in E Europe. Most of the 'pine' used for furniture in W Europe is actually spruce (Picea abies), which has a smoother grain and is less resinous, but often has more and darker 'knots', which are the discarded lower branches on the trunks of densely planted trees. Other uses of Scots Pine wood are (or were) street paving blocks, railway sleepers, fencing, crates, pallets, boxes, laminated wood, particleboard, fibreboard, and various wood-based materials. In Russia and Scandinavia resin is extracted by 'destructive distillation' from the stumps and roots of felled trees to produce 'Stockholm tar' which is used as a wood preservative. In much of western Europe it is a widely planted forestry tree for timber; it was introduced in the USA for similar purposes and for growing as Christmas trees. Scots Pine is or was also used to stabilize dunes, but not those close to the sea as it is not very resistant to salt-laden winds. In Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark such plantations have led to massive spontaneous spread of pines onto heathland and the last remaining inland dune areas, and while the old plantations have in many places matured to mixed woodland now managed as 'multiple use' or even nature reserves, the invasivenes onto Calluna heathland is seen as a menace to biodiversity and an ancient semi-natural landscape. In horticulture a large number of cultivars is known, including dwarf forms from witches brooms; the species is being planted as an amenity tree in many countries.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Pinus sylvestris forests in countries such as the United Kingdom (Scotland) have historically been heavily exploited and in some areas have been considerably reduced. Throughout most of its range, however, logging and forest conversion for agriculture or for plantations have had a much less of an impact.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Such a widespread and locally dominant species occurs in many protected areas across its range.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

♦  Medicine - human & veterinary
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Other chemicals
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Fibre
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Construction or structural materials
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

Farjon, A. 2010. Conifer Database (June 2008) In Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2010 Annual Checklist (Bisby F.A., Roskov Y.R., Orrell T.M., Nicolson D., Paglinawan L.E., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., eds). Reading, UK. Available at:

Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Citation: Gardner, M. 2013. Pinus sylvestris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T42418A2978732. . Downloaded on 10 October 2015.
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