Common Name: Cipres de las Guaitecas
Scientific Name: Pilgerodendron uviferum
Categories: Timber, Musical
Cipres is an endemic evergreen conifer that forms pure and mixed forests. It is characterized by its narrowly pyramidal shape, growing to between 1.5 and 15 m in height, and by its scale-like imbricate leaves in four rows. It is a slow-growth species that may live 400-500 years.
Why is this species important?
Cipres forests form unique ecosystems in the Valdivian, Patagonian and Magellanic rainforests of southern Chile. The timber has been heavily exploited for decades and has great traditional use. In the XI Region of Chile the species has an extensive cultural and historical value, with generations of people linked to the exploitation and trade of the tree.
Where is it found?
P. uvifera occurs in Chile from 39° 30’ to 54° S in the Coastal and Andes Range of Chile. In Argentina it is possible to find this species on the eastern side of the Andes between 41° and 47° S. This species grows in extremely humid sites located in flat places, known as Magellanic moorland.
How do people use it?
Cipres wood is valued for its durability and resistance to decay. This and its straight trunk mean it has been used extensively in all types of construction, especially for beams and boards that are free from defects and knots. In rural areas it is frequently used for bridges, poles, fencing, boats and furniture
Why is it threatened?
Owing to timber cutting, cipres forest have been dramatically degraded and destroyed, particularly in the XI Region. Large-scale destruction of the forest during colonial times and the widespread opening up of the lowland area have led to the extinction of the species from most of its original distribution. Illegal harvesting is still occurring in many forests containing cipres. Extensive fire setting and grazing have prevented regeneration, contributing to the species’ decline. This species was placed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which has reduced international trade.
What conservation action is needed?
The first initiative developed by Universidad Austral de Chile and Corporacion Nacional Forestal was the implementation of a demonstrative pilot of sustainable management and restoration of cipres forest. This activity involved the training of small-scale owners.Taking this initiative as a basis for future development activities, it is very important to promote sustainable management in unprotected areas. This promotion must reach the local forest owners that have used this species for decades. Other important measures include the development of alternative uses for cipres, such as non-timber forest products and eco-tourism. The restoration of degraded cipres forests is other important component that has to be considered in future conservation actions.
Donoso, C. (1993). Bosques templados de Chile y Argentina. Variacion, estructura y dinamica. Second Edition. Editorial Unversitaria. Santiago. 483 p.
Oldfield, S., C. Lusty & A. MacKinven. (1998). The World List of Threatened Trees. 650 pp. World Conservation Press, Cambridge, UK.
Earle, C. (2001). The Gymnosperm database. Department of Botany, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany. http://www.conifers.org/index.htm
Veblen, T., B. Burns, T. Kitzberger, A. Lara & R. Villalba, (1995). The Ecology of the conifers of Southern South America. In: Enright, N. & R. Hill (eds.). Ecology of the Southern Conifers. Melbourne University Press. 120-155.
Armesto, J., C. Villagran, J. C. Aravena, C. Perez, C. Smith-Ramirez, M. Cortes & L. Hedin. (1995). Conifer forests of the Chilean Coastal Range. In: Enright, N. & R. Hill (eds.). Ecology of the Southern Conifers. Melbourne University Press. 156-171.
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