Cedrus atlantica


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Cedrus atlantica
Species Authority: (Endl.) Manetti ex Carrière
Common Name(s):
English Atlas Cedar
French Cèdre de l'Atlas
Cedrus libani A.Rich. variety atlantica Endl.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-02-07
Assessor(s): Thomas, P.
Reviewer(s): Farjon, A. & Gardner, M.
Cedrus atlantica has an estimated extent of occurrence greater than 20,000 km2. Its total actual area of occupancy (AOO) is estimated to be between 1,300 and 1,500 km2 (Terrab et al. 2008, Linares et al. 2011) and there are seven main locations. Range wide declines of up to 75% in area of occupancy are estimated to have occurred between 1940 and 1982. Recent droughts have led to further declines in many parts of its range and it is likely that they will continue if the regional climate continues to become more arid. Outbreaks of pests and diseases have exacerbated the situation. Without proper control measures in place these negative effects are likely to continue.  The decline over the last 50 years is sufficient to warrant an assessment of Endangered under the criteria for A2 (three generations is 90 years).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Atlas Cedar forests are distributed in Morocco (Rif, Middle Atlas, and northeastern High Atlas) and Algeria (Aurès, Belezma, Hodna, Djbel Babor, Djurdjura, Blida and Ouarsenis). The Middle Atlas (northern Morocco) contains about 80% of the Atlas Cedar forest surface area (ca. 100,000 ha). The total area of occupancy in Algeria and Morocco is estimated to be between 1,300 and 1,500 km2 (Terrab et al. 2008, Linares et al. 2011). The extent of occurrence is more than 20,000  km2 and there are seven locations.
Algeria; Morocco
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Recent genetic analysis have indicated that two major subpopulations exist: one in the Rif and Middle Atlas mountains in Morocco and the other through the Algerian Tell Atlas and Aurès mountains (Terab et al. 2008). Stands within these subpopulations are relatively localized and fragmented.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Atlas Cedar occurs at elevations of 1,300 to 2,600 m a.s.l., where the amount of annual rainfall ranges from 500 to 2,000 mm and the minimum temperature of the coldest month ranges between −1 and −8 °C [35,46]. The Middle Atlas (northern Morocco) contains about 80% of the Atlas cedar forest surface area (ca. 100,000 ha). Middle Atlas Cedar forests contain several evergreen (Holm Oak, Quercus rotundifolia Lam.; Prickly Juniper, Juniperus oxycedrus L.; European holly, Ilex aquifolium L.) and deciduous (Acer opalus Mill., Crataegus laciniata Ucria) tree and shrub species. Taxus baccata also occurs in the Algerian forests (Bentouati 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Heavily exploited over several centuries for its strong durable timber. Essential oils are also distilled from the timber and foliage. It is widely cultivated in Europe.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Atlas Cedar forests have been exploited for their timber for several centuries. In addition they have been subject to overgrazing and repeated burning. Exploitation has increased over the last 50 years: range wide declines of up to 75% are estimated to have occurred between 1940 and 1982 (Benabid and Fennane 1994 cited in Terab et al. 2008). Since the 1980s a series of droughts have led to further decline, especially in areas closest to the Saharan desert (Bentouati 2008, Linares 2011). Crown defoliation by processionary caterpillars(Thaumetopoea bonjeani and T. pityocampa), cedar bark stripping by Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus), and damage by cedar bark beetles (Phaenops marmottani) seem to have exacerbated the recent decline (Allen 2010).  Recent dendroclimatological studies (Touchan 2011) have indicated that the current series of droughts are at least as intense as any that have occurred in the last thousand years. Projections for future climate change indicate a continued decrease in precipitation (Touchan 2011)

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Many stands are located within National Parks and receive some protection from overgrazing and logging. Programmes to monitor the extent and severity of recent die-back are in place.

Bibliography [top]

Allen, C.D., Macalady, A.K., Chenchouni, H., Bachelet, D., McDowell< N. Vennetier, M., Kitzberger, T., Rigling, A., Breshears, D.D., Hogg, E.H., Gonzalez, P., Fensham, R., Zhangm, Z., Castro, J., Demidova, N., Lim, J.H., Allard, G., Running, S.W., Semerci, A. and Cobb, N. 2010. A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests. Forest Ecology and Management 259(4): 660-684.

Bentouati, A. 2008. La situation du cèdre de l’Atlas dans les Aurès (Algérie). Forêt Méditerranéenne 29(2): 203-208.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Linares, J.C., Taiqui, L. and Camarero, J.J. 2011. Increasing drought sensitivity and decline of Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) in the Moroccan Middle Atlas Forests. Forests 2: 777-796 pp.

Terrab, A., Hampe, A., Lepais, O., Talavera, S., Vela, E. and Stuessy, T. 2008. Phylogeography of North African Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica, Pinaceae): combined molecular and fossil data reveal a complex Quaternary history. American Journal of Botany 95(10): 1262-1269.

Touchan, R., Anchukaitis, K., Meko, D., Sabir, M., Attalah, S. and Aloui, A. 2011. Spatiotemporal drought variability in northwestern Africa over the last nine centuries. Climate Dynamics 37: 237-252.

Citation: Thomas, P. 2013. Cedrus atlantica. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 04 September 2015.
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