Posts Tagged ‘unep’

World’s Most Endangered Trees

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

by Editor 20100828.

Sherwood Forest

‘Major Oak’

‘Yes, that Sherwood Forest. What was once a thick and dark mass of trees covering 100,000 acres (~20km x 20km) is now a spartan450 acres. Intense harvesting of the forest’s massive, ancient oaks for several centuries is the cause of the deforestation of this legendary woodland. Outcrops of Sherwood’s trees exist beyond the 450 acres but are not dense enough to be considered intact forest.’

[Source:   ^]

Canada’s Red Mulberry – at risk of extinction

The Red mulberry (Morus rubra) is one of Canada’s most endangered tree species and is only found in the Carolinian forest zone of southern Ontario. Red mulberry is typically an understorey species found in moist, forested habitats, including floodplains, bottomlands, sand pits and slopes. Because of its declining numbers (there are less than 200 red mulberry trees remaining in Canada) and because of the presence of several threats to its existence, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has designated the red mulberry as “endangered” in Canada.’

[Source: Natural Resources Canada,  ^ ]

Florida’s  Torreya Tree – most at risk on the planet!

Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia)
©Calvin & Judy Seaman

According to the website‘ the tree the Florida Torreya (Torreya taxifolia) is the most endangered tree species in the wild in the world, and the other most at risk endangered trees around the world are:

  • African Ash
  • African cherry
  • African mahogany
  • African Teak
  • Afzella
  • Aja
  • Ajo
  • Alcerce
  • Almaciga
  • Argarwood
  • Bintangor
  • Brazilian cherry
  • Brazilian rosewood a.k.a.Dalbergia Nigra, Jacaranda da Bahia
  • Bleedwood tree
  • Ceylon satinwood
  • Egba
  • Guatemalan fir
  • Honduras mahogany
  • Ipe
  • Kauri
  • King William Pine
  • Lauan
  • Meranti
  • Molave
  • New Guinea walnut
  • Nayotah
  • Parana pine
  • Parlatorei
  • Pau rosa a.ka. Pau Brasil
  • Pencil cedar
  • Ramin
  • Red sandalwood
  • Rosewood
  • Sajo
  • Spanish cedar
  • Teak
  • Utile
  • Walnut
  • West Indian Satinwood
  • [Source:  ^ ]

    UNEP Official List of Endangered Tree Species:

    According to the United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP], the world’s officially top twelve species of endangered trees are:

    African Blackwood, which is also known as Mpingo in Swahili is considered to be the national tree of Tanzania, despite the fact that it is native to 26 African countries, ranging from northern Ethiopia, to the south in Angola, also spreading from Senegal across to Tanzania.

    Mpingo not only improves soil fertility, but is also good at maintaining soil stability. Its leaves offer feed for migrating herbivores and for domestic livestock. The mature African Blackwood trees are capable of surviving fires that destroy other vegetation in grasslands. The dark heartwood of Mpingo, is one of the most economically valuable timbers in the world.

    Bois dentelle is a beautiful tree, endemic to the high cloud forest of Mauritius. Despite the fact that it has no commercial value, only two individuals are left. The most remarkable thing about the species are the flowers – sprays of white bell flowers with fine lacy petals that cover the tree in summer (January -March).

    The Clanwilliam cedar is a species endemic to the Cederberg Mountains in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. A majestic tree of 6-18 meters in height, the Clanwilliam cedar is a rot-resistant, fragrant and visually beautiful timber that was extensively exploited for building, furniture and later on telegraph poles by European settlers in the eighteenth century.

    The Dragon Tree is found on the Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Madeira and Morocco. The Guanche people of the Canary Islands used the sap for mummification purposes. In Ancient Rome, Sangre de Drago (Dragon Tree) was used as a colorant and across Europe it has been used as a varnish for iron tools.

    According to the Greek myth, “The Eleventh Labor of Hercules: The Apples of the Hespérides”, the hundred-headed dragon, Landon, who was said to have been the guardian of the Garden of the Hespérides, was killed by either Hercules or Atlas in order to fulfill Hercules’ task to bring back three golden apples from the garden. As told in the myth, the trees known as ‘Dragon Trees’ sprung from Landon’s red blood, which flowed out upon the land.

    The species is classified as being “Endangered” by Cape Verde, while it is identified as being extinct in the wild on Brava and Santiago where only planted specimens exist today.

    The Honduras rosewood is found in Belize in Central America and produces timber, which is extremely valued on the world market because of its use in musical instrument production.

    Since the Honduras Rosewood supplies hard, heavy, durable and very resonant timber, when struck, it gives off a clear, loud note and making it itself most highly valued in the production of orchestral xylophones and claves. It is also used to make thin covering for fine furniture and cabinets, , knife handles etc.

    The Loulu is a palm endemic to the northernmost of the Hawaiian Islands chain with the most variety of plant species of any island in Hawaii. There are fewer than 300 individuals of the Loulu left, because of limited regeneration caused by seed predation by rats and pigs as well as competing plants.

    The Monkey Puzzle is the National Tree of Chile. Nevertheless, there is at least of these trees in every botanical garden in Europe. Its local name is Pehuén and its existence has great historical and social importance to the people living in that area known as the Pehuenche, which means “people of Pehuén”. The seeds of the tree shape an important part of their diet.

    The Monkey puzzle is also valued for its unique and natural beauty, which makes it an emblem of a national parks and provinces in both Chile and Argentina. The timber found from the Pehuén has a high mechanical resistance and moderate resistance to fungal decay, hence for its being used for beams in buildings, bridges, roofs, furniture, boat structures, thin covering etc. Monkey puzzle forests have been fast destroyed and degraded due to logging, fire and grazing.

    Nubian Dragon Tree is found in Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda and was once a widespread and abundant species.

    It is one of the few species that can survive wide periods of drought in all parts of its scope, hence making it an important part of the desert ecosystem. The mature fruits of the Nubian Dragon tree are eaten and its sap and fruit may also have medicinal properties.

    Pau brasil is the national tree of Brazil, making it have strong cultural links to Brazil’s social and economic history. The species is known for the dye extract taken from the heartwood, for which it has been exploited since 1501. Presently, the dye extract and its bark are used locally for medicinal purposes. Research is being carried out to find out whether the bark of this tree can be used as a cure for cancer.

    Pau brasil wood is hard and compact, which is almost indestructible and was traditionally used to make hunting tools; commercially, it was harvested for use as a construction timber and in craftwork. It is also highly valued by musical instrument makers and still being exported for the production of bows for stringed instruments.

    The various uses acquired from the Pau Brasil have made it target to extensive collection and export of the dyewood, resulting in the loss of large areas of forest and the enslavement of local people and later on the demand for its timber by bow manufacturers has contributed to a great loss.

    Quercus hintonii, also known as Encino of Hinton (Hinton’s Oak), is endemic to Mexico. Some of the wood’s uses range from locally made tool handles, to beams and fencing poles, and primarily for firewood. Traditionally the wood is used to bake bread known as “las finas”, which the distinctive taste is brought on by the smoke.

    The species has also been highly affected by grazing, which prevents regeneration as well as the coming up of agriculture, coffee plantation and road construction have all contributed to the decline in the Quercus hintonii populations.

    “Hinton’s Oak, Quercus hintonii, is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species™. It is found in sub-montane to montane dry forest in Mexico. Hinton’s Oak has a restricted habitat and is thought to have strict altitudinal requirements. It has become threatened in recent years due to the serious destruction and reduction in size of its habitat.”

    [Source:  IUCN, ^

    St Helena gumwood was selected as St. Helena’s national tree in 1977. The endemic floras of St Helena are not only of great biogeographical significance, but they are also home for equally rare and unusual animal species. The St. Helena gumwood is one of the fourteen most globally endangered and endemic tree species in St Helena. It is threatened by human presence and their use of the timber for firewood and building.

    The Wollemi pine belongs to the ancient Araucariaceae species, thought to be over 200 million years old. Until 1994, the Wollemi pine was believed to have become extinct about 2 million years ago, but it was rediscovered in a gorge 150 km north-west of Sydney, Australia. There are less than 100 mature trees in the wild, making it one of the rarest species in the world. Because of this rarity, the Wollemi attracts a lot of tourism, which threatens its existence because of the therefore threatened by tourism, for it may be disturbed by human activities, also exposing it to seeds being trampled, compaction of the soil, the introduction of weeds and an increase in the possibility of fires.

    Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis),
    © J.Plaza RBG Sydney

    [Source:  UNEP, ^, accessed 28-Aug-10.]

    IUCN categorisation of tree species at risk of extinction:

    The International  Union for Conservation of Nature [^IUCN] ‘criterion A’ requires that a subject tree species has a small wild population – less than 5000 individual specimens exist in the wild on Earth.

    • A tree species will be determined to be Critically Endangered (of extinction) if there is expected to be at least 80 %  decline in 10 years or 3 generations
    • A tree species will be determined to be Endangered (of extinction) if there is expected to beat least 50 % decline in 10 years or 3 generations (Endangered)
    • A tree species will be determined to be Vulnerable (of extinction) if there is expected to beat least 20 % decline in 10 years or 3 generations.

    [Source:  ^]

    Further Information:

    [1]  Global Trees Campaign  ^

    [2]  Fauna & Flora International ^

    [3]  Botanical Gardens Conservation International ^

    [4]  Guide to Endangered Trees ^

    [5]  Trees for Life  ^

    [6]  Tree species evaluation using the new CITES* listing criteria ^

    [7] WebEcoist ^

    [8]  BBC article ‘Sherwood Forest ‘is under threat‘,5-Oct-07, ^

    [9]  1000 year old Major Oak, Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England  ^

    [10]  The Tree Council (UK),  ^

    [11] The Tree Council (Ireland), ^

    [12]  Treasures of the Plant Kingdom, ^

    [13]  ^

    [14] Kew Gardens – Science & Conservation (England),  ^

    *CITES stands for the ‘Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

    Did You Know that?

    • ‘An area of a rainforest the size of a football field is being destroyed each second.’

    • ‘The forests of Central Africa are home to more than 8,000 different species of plants.’

    • ‘More than 5,000 things are made from trees such as houses, furniture, pencils, utensils, fences, books, newspaper, movie tickets even clothing and toothpaste.’

    • ‘Three-quarters of the world’s people rely on wood as their main source of energy.’

    • ‘In Ethiopia, between 100,000 and 200,000 hectares of forest are cut down every year. Still, at least 200 million people lack enough wood to cook their food properly.’

    • ‘Destruction of forests creates numerous environmental catastrophes, including altering local rainfall patterns, accelerating soil erosion, causing the flooding of rivers, and threatening millions of species of plants, animals and insects with extinction.’

    • ‘Tropical forests cover 23 per cent of the Earth’s land surface, but they are disappearing at a rate of 4.6 million hectares a year. Asia leads losses with 2.2 million hectares a year, Latin America and the Caribbean together lose 1.9 million and Africa loses 470,000 hectares of rain forest every year.’

    • ‘About 6.1 million hectares of moist deciduous forest disappear every year, of which the largest regional share is in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 3.2 million hectares lost.’

    • ‘More than 1.8 million hectares of dry deciduous forest disappear every year, 40 per cent of which is lost in the Sudan, Paraguay, Brazil and India.’

    • ‘Annual losses of very dry forest total some 341,000 hectares. The Sudan loses 81,000 hectares of this type of forest every year, followed closely by Botswana, with 58,000 hectares.’

    • ‘Global annual deforestation for desert forest stands at an estimated 82,000 hectares, 60 per cent of which is lost in Mexico and Pakistan.’

    • ‘Hills and mountains lose about 2.5 million hectares of forest annually, 640,000 of which are lost in Brazil, 370,000 in Mexico, and 150,000 hectares in Indonesia.’

    [Source: ^UNEP website ]

    El Árbol del Tule

    (Spanish for “the Tule Tree”) is a tree located in the church grounds in the town center of Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.  It has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world. In 2001 it was placed on a UNESCO tentative list of World Heritage Sites.  In 2005, its trunk had a circumference of 36.2 m (119 ft), equating to a diameter of 11.62 m (38.1 ft).      [Source:Árbol_del_Tule ]

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