GOLDEN VIETNAMESE CYPRESS
Common Name: Golden Vietnamese Cypress
Scientific Name: Xanthocyparis vietnamensis
Xanthocyparis vietnamensis is an extremely rare species, found only on high ridges in one mountainous region in Vietnam. It is under pressure from logging, habitat loss and cutting for firewood. The Global Trees Campaign has been working to conserve this and several other Vietnamese conifer species since 2005.
Why is this species important?
Discovered in 1999 and formally described in 2002, X. vietnamensis was the first new conifer species to be described since the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) in 1994. Xanthocyparis was the first new genus of conifer to be described in the 21st century. It has a very restricted range and is mainly found on high, inaccessible ridges.
Where is it found?
This species has a very limited range and is found only in karst landscape in the Bat Dai Son mountains of northern Ha Giang Province in Viet Nam, on the border with China. Within the estimated 50 km² range of the species it is found only at high elevations, on ridges and mountain summits. It does not grow at lower elevations or in the valleys in this area.
How do people use it?
The timber of X. vietnamensis is very hard and scented so is an attractive material for construction. There is also some evidence that it has been cut for firewood in some areas. The timber is not traded outside of local areas but this is probably due to the fact that transporting timber out of this remote region is extremely difficult. The foliage of other Cupressaceous conifers is culturally important in the region, so this may also be the case for this species.
Why is it threatened?
Cutting of the tree for its timber and for firewood is the most severe threat, as is agricultural expansion (although the species is currently found only on inaccessible ridges, so this may no longer be an issue). The tree is very slow growing and although regeneration has been recorded in the wild, it is thought to be limited. It is very difficult to estimate how serious the decline in the species is due to the remote location of many of the trees.
What conservation action is needed?
The Global trees Campaign has been working in the area since 2005, and in 2006 supported the first conservation status assessment of the species. Following on from this work a further GTC project helped establish the Conifer Conservation Centre (CCC) in north Vietnam, which has a fully functioning nursery for conifer propagation. Wild populations of X. vietnamensis have been mapped and labelled to allow monitoring and are being reinforced using nursery grown saplings
We are currently supporting further conifer restoration work through our Conservation Gifts at Tree2MyDoor.com - click for more information and plant a conifer tree as a gift.
The Vietnamese Golden Cypress (Xanthocyparis vietnamensis) Conservation Status Assessment (CSA) and Conservation Action Plan (CAP), Fauna & Flora International, 2006. Click here to view a pdf of this document.
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