Cedrus libani var. libani


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Cedrus libani var. libani
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Cedar of Lebanon, Lebanon Cedar
French Cèdre du Liban
Cedrus libani A.Rich. variety stenocoma (O.Schwarz) Frankis
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.
The area of occupancy (AOO) of 1,016.5 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 no more than 10 locations - two in Lebanon, one in Syria and seven in Turkey. The population is 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 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.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

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

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).


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.).
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 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).
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.

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).

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).

Bibliography [top]

Beals, E.W. 1965. The remnant cedar forests of Lebanon. Journal of Ecology 53: 679–694.

Boydak, M. 1996. Ecology and Silviculture of Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani A.Rich.) and Conservation of its Natural Forests. Orman Bakanligi Yayin, Istanbul.

Chaney, W.R. and Basbous, M. 1978. The Cedars of Lebanon, witnesses of history. Economic Botany 32: 119-123.

Fady, B., Lefevre, F., Vendramin, G.G., Ambert, A., Regnier, C. and Bariteau, M. 2008. Genetic consequences of past climate and human impact on eastern Mediterranean Cedrus libanii forests. Implications for their conservation. Conservation Genetics 9: 85-95.

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

Hajar, L., Francois, L., Khater, C., Jomaa, I., Deque, M. and Cheddadi , R. 2010. Cedrus libani (A. Rich) distribution in Lebanon: Past, present and future. Comptes Rendus Biologies 333: 622-630.

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

Kavgacıa, A., Baarana, S. and Baaran, M.A. 2010. Cedar forest communities in Western Antalya (Taurus Mountains, Turkey). Plant Biosystems 144(2): 271-287.

Khouzami, M. 1994. The Lebanese cedar forests. First National Conference on the Cedar of Lebanon, Present and Future. American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Khuri, S. and Talhouk, S.N. 1999. Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani A.Rich.). In: A. Farjon and C.N. Page (compilers), Conifers. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Conifer Specialist Group, pp. 108-111. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Khuri, S., Shmoury, M.R., Baalbaki, R., Maunder, M. and Talhouk, S.N. 2000. Conservation of the Cedrus libani populations in Lebanon: history, current status and experimental application of somatic embryogenesis. Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 1261–1273.

Musselman, L.J. 1999. Surprising cedars of Syria. Plant Talk 17: 19-21.

Sattout, E. and Caligari, P. 2011. Forest Biodiversity Assessment in Relic Ecosystem: Monitoring and Management Practice Implications. Diversity 3: 531-546.

WWF and IUCN. 1994. Centres of plant diversity. A guide and strategy for their conservation. IUCN Publications Unit, Cambridge, UK.

Citation: Gardner, M. 2013. Cedrus libani var. libani. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
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